Solar Panel: Are the Suns Headed in Right Direction?

Phoenix Suns Direction

Welcome to the Solar Panel. A gathering of some of the most unique minds discussing topics from around Planet Orange (if that’s still a thing). These media members and super fans will breakdown whether the Phoenix Suns are headed in the right direction for the future. Here’s this edition’s panelists:

Jon Bloom: Suns Postgame Radio Host and Northern Arizona Play By Play Guy  @JonBloom

Andrew Lynch: Sr. Writer, FOX Sports ,

Greg Esposito: Suns Columnist for Sports360AZ and Former Suns Postgame Radio Host

1) By not trading for DeMarcus Cousins did the Phoenix Suns Miss Their Chance to Redefine Their Future?

Jon Bloom: I don’t think we’ll have this answer until we see how chapter 2 of the Cousins saga plays out in New Orleans.  There is certainly a chance that he turns things around and takes the next step in his career while helping his team do the same, but I’m going with the jury still being out in that case.

Andrew Lynch: Not really, for two major reasons. First and most importantly, the choice wasn’t theirs to make. They weren’t going to trump the Pelicans’ offer of the second coming of Stephen Curry (in Vivek Ranadive’s eyes, anyway). Second, bringing Boogie to Phoenix would have been a horrible decision. The Suns aren’t much better than the Kings without the assets they would have sent back in the alternate universe where Cousins moves to Phoenix, he’s just as unhappy here as he was in Sacramento.

Espo: Let’s be honest, if culture is something the Suns are trying to hang their hat on you don’t nuke that by dropping DeMarcus Cousins into the middle of it. Cousins is to a healthy culture what Warren Beatty is to Oscar presenting. In the end things are going to be messed up and you’re going to truly wonder how you got to where you’re at.

2) Does it surprise you that Brandon Knight is still part of the Phoenix Suns future as of now?

JB: Yes. After watching the magic trick Earl Watson and Ryan McDonough pulled off last year with Markieff Morris, I thought they’d be able to get something in return for a 24 year old point guard who has proven he can start in this league.  That said, it’s tough to convince a third team to trade for a guy who’s been moved twice already in his young career.

AL:  100 percent. If you’ll excuse me, I won’t elaborate, as I instituted a “No thinking about Brandon Knight” policy back in January.

Espo: M. Night Shyamalan couldn’t have found a way to surprise me more. Knight has looked disengaged all season and happy to collect his paycheck and nothing more. He hasn’t been a malcontent but he hasn’t added anything to this team either. Thought for sure that GM Ryan McDonough would have found a way to turn this pumpkin into a first rounder. Heck, he did it with Markieff Morris and he had a pending criminal investigation and discipline issues. Something will happen on this front in the offseason.

3) The Suns showed a certain amount of restraint in not forcing a deal at the deadline. Is committing to building through youth and the draft the right path for the franchise?

JB: I hope it is.  They’ve tried making trades, they’ve swung and missed (sometimes even foul tipping) in free agency, so apparently now is the time to go this route.  I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if they make an effort to package together some of their assets in an offseason move.

AL: I think so. The Suns are a long way from relevancy, so they might as well keep rolling the dice with young prospects and assets for the next couple of seasons. The key is establishing some sort of identity — otherwise, you just become the Western Conference version of the Orlando Magic.

Espo: What’s the old saying, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well, for 48 seasons before this one the Suns had always tried to reload rather than rebuild and never committed long term to building through the draft. You know what else they haven’t had in 48 seasons? A championship. It’s about time the team decided to build straight through the draft rather than building through trades or free agency. In the current NBA climate, building a great team and developing a star is the only hope for mid to small market teams. And yes, unfortunately, the Suns fall in that category.

4) With other teams in the west getting worse, do you think the Suns will finish in a position to get a Top 3 pick?

JB: At this point it’s hard to argue otherwise.  The movement to youth over experience is clear, while the path to multiple victories over the last month is definitely not.

AL: Phoenix will battle the Lakers for the second-worst record in the NBA for the next six weeks (sorry, but no one’s going to “beat” the Nets on that front), possibly playing a hand in Los Angeles surrendering its top-three protected pick to the 76ers.

How fitting that even when both teams are miserable, they can’t separate themselves from one another.

Espo: Forget March Madness, the NBA as March Sadness going on. Teams like the Suns, Lakers and 76ers have fired up the tank and are ready to roll over and crush the spirits of their fan bases looking to see any semblance of good basketball the rest of the season. Lakers dealt Lou Williams who was contributing and the 76ers shut down Embiid and dealt Nerlens Noel. While the Suns have gone younger than some college teams by benching Tyson Chandler, Brandon Knight and dealing P.J. Tucker, it’s going to be tough to hold off the experts of the tank in Philly and the hapless Lakers.

OT) Purple or Orange?

JB: I respect and appreciate the Purple, but I’ve got nothing but love for the Orange!

AL: Both great colors, but purple is godly

Espo: Alvan Adams, Dick Van Arsdale, Walter Davis and Charles Barkley never wore orange uniforms. #JustSayin