Should Suns start tanking games?
by Dan Bickley, USA TODAY Sports
Rock bottom is a sporting cliché. In Phoenix, it’s a reality.
The Suns are tied for the worst record in the Western Conference. The vacant look in Michael Beasley’s eyes reflects the apathy we all feel for this basketball team. And with 23 games left in the regular season, there is only one thing left for this organization to accomplish.
Memo to Robert Sarver: It rhymes with banking.
The business of tanking games is a delicate matter. No one wants to get caught losing on purpose. It sends the wrong message to fans and hurts the league’s image. But feigning competitiveness can be a necessary evil and a fine art in the NBA, and for the Suns, that time has arrived.
“Look at Golden State last year,” former Suns general manager Steve Kerr said. “They were starting five rookies in the last couple weeks of the season, and it was pretty blatant they had no interest in winning games. And frankly, with the system being the way it is, I have no problem with that.”
Successful tanking requires a head coach who is able to digest a steady diet of defeats. Alvin Gentry was not. He needed to win to save his job. That’s not the case with interim coach Lindsey Hunter, who is a lock to return next season.
After all, these Suns sacrificed a local legend (Dan Majerle) in order to promote Hunter. Not retaining him would be an egregious admission of failure, opening them up to all sorts of criticism.
A team must also be full of bad, young players who fall under the “development” umbrella. The Suns have no shortage of these, allowing them to bench productive players like Shannon Brown and Jermaine O’Neal down the stretch without making David Stern overly suspicious.
Finally, fans must be willing to go along with the scheme. In Phoenix, that won’t be a problem. Television ratings are plummeting, down 63% from the last full season. The Beasley Experiment has been a disaster. Fans have been lobotomized and desensitized. Their team could lose every remaining game, and no one would blink an eye.
The climate is perfect for the … [For more on Should Suns start mastering art of tanking games?, click here.]