Plenty of optimism to glean from Suns preseason

PHOENIX — Only their play in the regular season will truly answer the questions facing the Suns when training camp opened. But the preseason offered more than a glimpse of how the cohesion of a rebuilt roster, a new dedication to defense and needed leadership will play out starting Wednesday.

Initial reviews are good. Whether it is enough to get the Suns back into the playoffs still is undetermined.

But what is important now is that Markieff Morris is the farthest thing from a distraction, Tyson Chandler has command of the locker room and the Suns will play faster on offense and stouter on defense. The additions of Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer will help space the floor, and Hornacek should have many options on a deep bench.

"It’s a group of young guys who really want to learn," Chandler, who knew a little about each of his new teammates when he signed as a free agent and only became more optimistic in the past month, said. "You have guys asking questions after practice, sticking around, trying to learn, trying to get better."

The next task is to do it when it counts, starting with Wednesday’s season opener against the Dallas Mavericks at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

"We went in wanting to pick up your defense and at times we did do that," Hornacek said after Friday’s practice. "At times we had much better help defense throughout the preseason. There’s still things we need to work on but we’re going in the right direction."

It doesn’t look like the Suns will have to worry about Morris’ tumultuous offseason — legal issues, the trade of his brother Marcus to Detroit and trade demands — affecting his play this year.

"Markieff is Markieff. What everyone said about it him before the season, none of that happened," P.J. Tucker said. "He’s here for the team and he’s here for the name of the back of his jersey, because he has pride."

Rotation questions still must be answered. How will Hornacek divvy up minutes off the bench to guards Sonny Weems, Archie Goodwin, Devin Booker and Ronnie Price? Will T.J. Warren’s improving defense and ever-present scoring ability significantly cut into Tucker’s playing time? How will the Suns manage the minutes of the 14-year veteran Chandler with Alex Len?

"You have to get down to some rotation, but guys have to be ready," Hornacek said. "You don’t know how long those rotations are going to last. If you’re winning all the games you stay with it. If not, you have to make some adjustments."

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