Mavs vs. Suns: Bad meets worse

USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Dallas vs. Phoenix was one of the most exciting and important rivalries in the NBA?

Kris Habbas is the founder and managing editor of NBA Draft Insider. He's also a Phoenix resident who covers the Suns for Bright Side Of The Sun.You can follow him on Twitter at NBA Draft Insider.

What's going on in Phoenix? Coaches getting fired happens, but you rarely see the two main assistants leave in a huff afterward. Is it as chaotic as it appears from the outside?

You have no idea how much more chaotic is in here in Phoenix. This is a proud franchise; despite never winning a title, the Suns have always been run smoothly and with logic, but that has all changed. The organization has become a laughing stock. The national media, from radio to ESPN and Yahoo! and beyond, are laughing at the decision-making process and how things are being handled. This has been a colossal circus of monument proportions and is unfortunately only the beginning of a long process of getting back on track.

Do you think the right decisions were made in that process? Should Alvin Gentry still be with the Suns or is Lindsay Hunter a better long-term fit?

The one thing about the NBA is that there is the benefit of hindsight.

Initially, this was obviously a bad move and looked like one that involved a degree of collusion. It looked dirty from the outside and even the inside. Gentry is a very beloved figure in NBA circles so that didn't help.

Now, with five games played the team clearly needed a jolt to move forward again. The team was either not buying what Gentry was selling or his message had simply grown old for the team. He was not connecting with Michael Beasley or the front office. Hunter may not be a great coach, but that cannot be judged in this short time frame, although he has done a decent job so far.

What's the plan in Phoenix right now? Who would you say are the "core" pieces this team should build around going forward?

Core? There is no "core" today. All of this talk about a "youth movement" is laughable, considering the roster consists of eight players over 25 and zero players under 21 years old. They are remarkably middle-aged by NBA standards.

The young players they have are Goran Dragic, Markieff Morris, Kendall Marshall, Michael Beasley, and Diante Garrett. Those five all play one of two positions. So, in a round about way, what I am saying is there is no plan.

The expectations were that this team was going to be .500 or better this season and the roster shows. They do not have an army of 19-22 year olds ready to play due to the overall team performance. Those guys come in next season.

Mike Beasley has seen his PER decline in each of his last five seasons. He's reached new career lows in his first season with the Suns. Is there any reason to expect that trend will change?

Don't blink, but Beasley is playing arguably his best basketball of his career over the past five games. He is putting up 18.2 PPG and shooting 53.4% from the field since the coaching change.

This is not the beginning of Beasley reaching his potential, but remember, he averaged 19.2 PPG before and is capable of scoring in bunches. That is what the Suns are looking for and expected when they gave him 18 million dollars. Consistency and engagement have always been his downfall, oh, and the Gremlins on the rim.

Does Kendall Marshall have a future in Phoenix with Goran Dragic entrenched? Or did Phoenix just spend a lottery pick on a backup PG?

You are too kind, they actually used their lottery pick in 2012 on a third string point guard. He came in as green as they come only to find out that veterans don't just give up their jobs to rookies no matter the draft positioning. Marshall is firmly behind Dragic and Sebastian Telfair. If they decided to move Telfair, from my interactions with the team and the players, I would expect Garrett to earn those back-up minutes over time.

Nevertheless, they need to see what they got with Marshall on the court in NBA action. The front office created this situation signing Dragic, then drafting Marshall, keeping Telfair and signing Garrett out of Summer League. All-around terrible roster management in hindsight and, frankly, at the time.

How do Suns fans view Shawn Marion? Will he have his jersey retired in Phoenix and do you think he has a legitimate case for the Hall of Fame?

Historically, Marion has the 51st most rebounds, 61st most blocks, and the 29th most steals in NBA History as a hybrid three/four. When all is said and done he will climb higher up the rankings cementing himself in league history as a great.

Not too long ago I did a review of the 2000's as a decade to compile the best players in that time window. What I came up with those studies were that Marion was only out-rebounded by Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. You know, two all-time greats and 30% of the MVPs during that decade.

As a Sun, Marion was the do-it-all guy that masked the deficiencies of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. Without Marion, those teams are not as prolific. Fans will remember him for the way he left, a locker room headache and a guy demanding money, but what he meant to the franchise was leaps and bounds beyond that. He is an all-time great here, and he should be in the discussion for the NBA Hall of Fame and the Suns Ring of Honor.

Only nine players have had their jersey retired here. Nash will be No. 10, but they are very picky with the individuals they honor here. That is good and bad; time will tell with Marion.

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