The Phoenix Suns had a horrible season themselves and are in a race for the third-worse record in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but we thought the Los Angeles Lakers would just hand over their draft pick.
In the off-season, the Lakers traded for Steve Nash and in return gave Phoenix several draft picks with varying restrictions. This year’s pick rested on whether L.A. would make the playoffs. In the preseason this notion was laughable, because, on paper, the Lakers were one of the best teams ever assembled and were thought to be in contention for a championship.
How can you not be considered that great when you have a top-5 player of all time in Kobe Bryant, one of the best point guards ever to play (Steve Nash), the most dominant center in the league (Dwight Howard), as well as multiple all-star caliber players (Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison)?
However, the team had chemistry problems, fired head coach Mike Brown five games into the season, tried to get Phil Jackson to come back then ended up hiring Mike D’Antoni, who was one of Nash’s coaches here in Phoenix. The team also had major injury issues, which is what happens when your roster is filled with proven vets who are just past their prime.
About halfway through the season, Suns fans are like, “Hey we get two decent picks”. However, the Suns kept losing and the Lakers started to win. Phoenix fell all the way toward the top of the “lottery standings”, while Los Angeles began winning too many games in improbable ways. Really it was just Kobe saying, “We are making the playoffs.”
Now, Kobe’s Achilles tendon gave out on him during a game and he is out for the season, but there is only one game left to win, and the Utah Jazz are on the outside looking in. This is where Phoenix begins to root for teams in adjacent states.
Utah heads to Minnesota to play the Timberwolves Monday, then the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday. The Lakers play the Houston Rockets Wednesday. The Lakers are up by one and a half games, but the Jazz hold the tiebreaker, so the only scenario where Utah makes the postseason is when the Jazz win both of their games and the Lakers lose to the Rockets. This is a very slim chance, but there is still a possibility if the Lakers can’t win another game without Kobe, Minnesota is horrible, and the Grizzlies rest everybody.
If this scenario ends up happening the Suns will get probably the third and 14th picks in this year’s draft. If not, then they will get their own pick in addition to Miami’s through the Lakers, which unfortunately is the last pick in the first round (30th).
Suns fans were in the sad position of rooting for the San Antonio Spurs Sunday, as we wanted L.A. to lose every game possible. Now our future rests with the Utah Jazz and I’m worried.