It’s hard to call what’s happening to the Phoenix Suns anything but a complete collapse. Eric Bledsoe now being out for possibly the entire season is more bad news that makes Jeff Hornacek feel even more pressure, knowing that the day of him losing his job isn’t too far away.
The Suns, 12-20, looked like they were putting the whole Morris twins problems behind them early in the season, with Markieff Morris playing well in the lineup, as the Suns kicked things off with three wins in four games. But since then it’s been quite terrible, with Morris once again looking like he’s looking to get out and worst: The players don’t seem to responding to Hornacek, who was the guy who made the team change their mind about tanking in 2013-2014, when he shockingly almost led the Suns to the playoffs in 2014.
The Suns aren’t firing Hornacek yet, but they’re changing the staff around him. Mike Longabardi (in charge of defense) and Jerry Sichting were let go, while Earl Watson and former NBA D-League head coach Nate Bjorkgren were promoted in order to work closer to Hornacek, and maybe have more of an influence on what’s going on. The Suns are 20th in the league when it comes to offensive efficiency and are ranked 20th as well in defensive efficiency. In short? While they’re not the worst thing out there right now, there are few teams that are worse than them. Not remotely close to being a playoff team.
Bledsoe, who missed half of his first season with the Suns, will have knee surgery to fix his torn meniscus which means he’s out until at least the All-Star break and maybe longer. He’s averaging 20.4 points per game this season, but there’s been too little help around him as the Suns have dropped 15 of their last 20 games following a 7-5 start. Their home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that hasn’t won a road game in almost a year and picked up only their second win of the season, is a new low point, and maybe a point of no return, with the ownership fearing the Suns players are no longer responding to Hornacek.
Things could have been very different for the Suns had Goran Dragic made it clear he has no plan to stay on the team. This was what halted their relatively good run last season, with the trade for Brandon Knight not really improving the team. Signing Tyson Chandler off of the Dallas Mavericks hasn’t made the kind of impact they were hoping for as well. The roster, split between young, unpolished talent and veterans who want to win now, got split up and didn’t develop in the way projected after the optimistic feelings of the 2013-2014 season.
Without Bledsoe, the changes might not mean much. The Suns don’t have too much behind him, and their sudden change of plan – win now instead of keep their head on the future, turned out to bite them on both ends. They no longer have a promising future based on high draft picks and talented young players, while their veterans aren’t good enough to pull this team through the difficult West. Considering who is on the team and the ever changing faces in the front office, firing Hornacek isn’t going to make a difference.