For Suns fans, rooting against the Lakers has never been so much fun.
Heavens knows there is little left locally to root for on Planet Orange. It’s gotten so bad now that players who refuse to pull back and play at three-quarter speed like Goran Dragic have been benched in favor of players for whom the concept comes naturally (hello to Michael Beasley and those incorrigible Morris twins).
A big thanks to the NBA for back-loading the Suns schedule with all of these home games in March and April. If any team needed an eight-game death march around the East Coast, it’s the Suns. Instead, fans are left with the dilemma of having tickets they can’t give away. Who wants to go to a funeral even if there is bouncy music and dancers?
Luckily, Suns fans do have something to do over the next few weeks, and it comes naturally. They get to sit back, cross their fingers and toes, and hope the Lakers lose and join them in Lotteryville (pop. 14)
Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni are still well-regarded here, but when you sign up with Showtime, well-wishes are put on hold. Plus, there are plenty of other villains on the roster, led by self-admitted Suns-hater Kobe Bryant, to make the Lakers nightly implosions must-see TV in Arizona.
On top of the endless joys brought from watching Dwight Howard brick free throws, Pau Gasol throw a temper tantrum and Metta World Peace limp to the sidelines, there is the added bonus of the Lakers’ first-round draft pick from the Nash deal, which would go to the Suns and give them a second kick at the ol’ lottery can in June’s draft.
Thanks to nine losses in the last 10 games — many to some of the league’s perennial bottom-feeders who relish the opportunity — the Suns began this weekend with the third-most losses in the league. Ping pong-wise, it gives them a puncher’s chance of something they have never enjoyed in their 45-year history: the first overall pick in the draft.
It could be a summer to remember for Suns fans. Or, will same front office that produced Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall in the last two drafts fail to deliver again? Imagine Kenneth Faried at power forward or Kawhi Leonard at shooting guard instead of Morris?
Ah, never mind about that now. Just have fun watching those Lakers games.
‘D’ for Disabled
The Diamondbacks expect to win this season with the same “sum of its parts” mantra the Coyotes have used for the last three playoff runs. But with the season opening Monday and three important cogs in the machine starting the year on the disabled list, Arizona had better hope this isn’t a sign of more things to come.
Manager Kirk Gibson expected to have Willie Bloomquist, Adam Eaton and Cody Ross on his lineup card against St. Louis — but all three could miss a good portion of April and guys like newcomer Martin Prado and Jason Kubel — who struggled last summer and this spring – will be asked to pick up the slack.
Arizona is counting on depth, versatility and toughness to be among their key ingredients to a successful season. All those facets will be tested right away.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.