Monday , Apr , 06 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Question marks, coaching changes, and trades: Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors deserve to miss playoffs

Fans in Phoenix and Toronto will be disappointed because their squads were officially eliminated from the post-season with losses Sunday afternoon. Their feelings are understandable, but not rationale when considering the recent madness that has occurred with these two organizations. Their years began with questions. From day one, the Suns lacked an identity; the players favoured their old run-and-gun scheme, while new coach Terry Porter tried to implement a more defensive approach. They ended with something ugly in-between. Up north, Chris Bosh’s 2010 free agency has hung over the Raptors like an Ontario smog cloud …


Question marks, coaching changes, and trades: Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors deserve to miss playoffsThey had no business thinking playoffs.

Fans in Phoenix and Toronto will be disappointed because their squads were officially eliminated from the post-season with losses Sunday afternoon. Their feelings are understandable, but not rationale when considering the recent madness that has occurred with these two organizations.

Their years began with questions. From day one, the Suns lacked an identity; the players favoured their old run-and-gun scheme, while new coach Terry Porter tried to implement a more defensive approach. They ended with something ugly in-between. Up north, Chris Bosh’s 2010 free agency has hung over the Raptors like an Ontario smog cloud.  

Not surprisingly, both teams struggled, so they fired their coaches mid-season. Phoenix GM Steve Kerr pink-slipped Porter a half-season after handpicking him to succeed Mike D’Antoni. And Toronto executive Bryan Colangelo dismissed Sam Mitchell 16 months after he won the Coach of the Year award.

Interim sideline bosses Alvin Gentry and Jay Triano had their moments and will likely be retained next season. However, Gentry and Triano aren’t miracle workers and struggled under impossible circumstances.

Of course, there were blockbuster trades, too. Desert fixtures Raja Bell and Boris Diaw were shipped to Charlotte for swingman Jason Richardson. Bell and Diaw have stabilized a young Bobcat side, while J-Rich has made headlines for the wrong reasons. The Raptors dealt the underachieving Jermaine O’Neal to the Heat in return for the underachieving Shawn Marion.

Both moves were made to cut costs. Phoenix owner Robert Sarver has been hit especially hard by the recession. Toronto’s Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment wanted the flexibility of Marion’s expiring contract to rebuild either this summer or next.  

The Suns and Raptors may point to their recent play as a positive. This is a smoke screen. Nothing more. Both clubs should remember playoff calibre teams have a clear identity, pick and then stick with the right coach, and avoid major trades mid-season.

If Phoenix and Toronto follow this formula next year and still miss the playoffs, then their fans will have every right to be disappointed.

All things considered, did the Suns and Raptors deserve to make the post-season? How should their fans feel? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA coverage. Photo courtesy of ajvlasman.