Suns Setting the Right Way
The Phoenix Suns are currently 38-40 and nowhere near where they expected to be when the 2010-11 season began. Yet, during this season of transition and on in which the Suns will miss the playoffs, a bright spot has been Channing Frye, who is averaging career highs in both points and rebounds.
"It’s about being able to adapt," Frye told HOOPSWORLD. "A lot of teams switch, so I’ve had to go into the post a lot more, I’ve had to board a lot more, being more aggressive and blocking more shots. Amare (Stoudemire) helped us out a lot in that aspect, so I’ve been trying to do that and bring energy."
Although Frye is in the midst of a career season, he strongly believes the team needs to make quick decisions as to which players will return next year. That way, the work done in this disappointing season won’t go without a reason.
"We changed a lot of things this year based on our personnel," said Frye. "I feel like why change something that’s not broken? Let’s just get the right people here and we do have most of the right people here. We just need to continue to grow as a unit."
"You have guys who are hurt and are used to going to the playoffs," teammate Aaron Brooks tells HOOPSWORLD. "I mean, the Suns are a proud organization and you’ve got Nash, Grant and all these guys who have been in the playoffs every single year. It’s a different feeling to have, so we’re going out there playing, not being lazy, but it is definitely a different feeling."
Positivity remains in the locker room when discussing the future because they believe they’re laying the groundwork now for success next season, as well as further into the future. According to them, they have taken two of the most important steps already.
"We’re establishing that the way we play, we can win," said Frye. "When you put the right personnel here and give us an opportunity to grow around each other. Coach needs to see what people do and who people are. People need to get used to each other. You know, with a lot of change comes a lot of learning and we know that our system works. It’s a lot of fun, it allows players to grow and flourish when given an opportunity."
"To be honest, it’s in the trust," teammate Josh Childress tells HOOPSWORLD. "In all the things we’ve gone through—the losses, the injuries, the trades—you develop a trust, a bond that you really can’t put a timetable on. It’s something that just happens over time, but we really have something good to go off on for next year in that regard. Of course, when guys go through hardships and you see another guy is down, it’s about picking him up. That brings guys closer. Everybody in here has gone through some kind of hardship this year and having a teammate that helps you out is what builds it."
The Suns know they have a lot of work to do to get back to consistency and, although they acknowledge they have gone through a lot in the last year, they continue to plug along this year. This year won’t turn out how they wanted or expected, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do.
"To me, it just comes down to chemistry and that chemistry comes from growing together," said Frye. "Guys weren’t fitting in at the beginning, trading away guys who were very comfortable in this system and bringing in new guys. With all that change, we’re like, ‘We have nothing to lose here.’ Nobody expects us to do anything this year anyway and, for us, we can look and say, ‘We competed with the best and we have games we shouldn’t have lost.’ In five or six point games, it just comes down to execution. Just knowing each other and having another year under our belts together is really going to help."
With the work they continue to do, such as coming back from a large deficit in Chicago earlier this week, the Suns have set clear goals of what they want to accomplish in the few remaining games.
"The focus for us is to try and finish with a winning record," says Childress. "That’s our focus. We’re trying to finish about 0.500, play as hard as we can and if shots aren’t falling, so be it. One of the biggest things is just that we have to play with effort and energy. That’s what Coach wants, that’s what we expect of ourselves and if that’s going on, then we can’t complain."
"It’s all about pride. That’s what the focus is," adds Brooks. "I mean, the fans want to go to the playoffs and they want you to play hard. They deserve that and they want to come see that. It’s about pride and respect for them."
Without mentioning the impending lockout, the coming off-season may very well become another transitional period for the Phoenix Suns. Some of their most important players are older veterans—such as Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Vince Carter—and there have been rumors about each of them ending up elsewhere next season at some point.
"It just depends on what happens this summer and where they really want to go," says Frye. "This summer is really going to be big for us because of where Nash wants to go. He’s getting up there—Grant Hill too—and I know that they want to play, but they want to play knowing what’s going to happen. For us, the younger guys are here for the long haul, but those guys definitely deserve a chance to be on a team that competes."
Whether some or all of the veterans return or the Suns move on with their developing younger core, one thing is certain: there is hope. As they continue to re-tool, they are also developing that young core for a long run of success in the future.
"When everything goes down to chaos, you really see people’s true feelings and I’m excited about next year," said Frye. "I’m really excited to come back and play with these guys because I feel like we have a lot of great talent on this team. To be able to play with these guys, especially now that they know that this is how we play, now everybody is a part of this system, a part of this group and we can compete and play with anybody."
After everything this team endured throughout the 2010-11 season, they are still positive and working to build for the future. Where their character shows through is what should give fans the most hope going forward.
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