GM poll paints bleak picture of Suns

GM poll paints bleak picture of Suns

Published Jan. 17, 2012 3:59 p.m. ET

In results of the NBA's annual general managers survey released Tuesday, it wasn't hard to see that Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash is still regarded around the league as one of the sport's best and brightest.

At nearly 38 years old, Nash retained his title among the executives as the player with the league's best basketball IQ, while also placing second in voting for best passer, best leader and best international player.

None of that comes as much of a surprise, but it's another category that was most telling. Nash was third in voting for "player (who) does the most with the least."

That could be interpreted as acknowledgement of Nash's capacity to make the most of his own abilities or a nice nod to his knack for improving the players around him, but it's also an indication of where the Suns are as an organization. It may not have been the intention, but the vote highlights that Nash has little to work with in Phoenix.

Many might be quick to ask "What about Grant Hill?" or "How about Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley?" Those players are certainly due credit for their abilities, but even so the Suns failed to register in any of the team categories of the survey. No votes to win the Pacific Division, none for the Western Conference and certainly none for the Finals.

Again, no surprise in that voting, as the Suns missed the playoffs last season and are teetering on the edge of rebuilding. It's a harsh reminder though how far the Suns have fallen since coming two games from the NBA finals in 2010.

Furthermore, such a finish -- or lack there of -- is just more fuel on the fire already burning about the Suns' not-so-sunny future. It’s a foregone conclusion by now that the Suns will have to rebuild at the end of the Nash era, be that at the trade deadline or after the season, and failure to factor into the bigger picture of the NBA landscape furthers the argument that it should come sooner rather than later.

It seems not long ago the Suns were perennial playoff contenders and touted as having one of the league's most dangerous offenses. And really, it wasn't that long ago, but the departure of Amare Stoudemire and the ensuing roster makeover has brought the Suns to a very different place very quickly.

The reality is the Suns have become an afterthought, mentioned little in the grand scheme of the NBA outside the never-ending speculation about Nash's future as his career winds down. If that reality wasn't already clear, the GMs validated it in their voting.

Further illuminating what's to come for the Suns was Nash's finish alongside teammate Grant Hill for fourth place as the "active player (who) will make the best head coach someday." Hill is the NBA's second-oldest player and Nash fifth oldest. Retirement isn't far off for both, so it's hard not to wonder if they fit into Phoenix's plans beyond 2012.

There were a few positives for the Suns in the survey outside Nash's various honors. Forward Markieff Morris came in fifth in voting for "Who will win 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year?" Gortat received votes for international player most likely to have a breakout season, and he already appears to be doing so. And Dudley got votes in the "doing the most with the least" category, a deserved acknowledgement of his recent growth as a player.

Those are nice endorsements, but they're not honors you'll see celebrated much. None of the Suns earned votes for any of the best player categories. The big takeaway from the survey is the Suns' standing as an organization, and if the results are any indication, they've got a steep climb back to relevance.