After Steve Nash left the team, it’s safe to say that their first season without him was a disaster for the Phoenix Suns. The team was fairly competitive in recent years, but finished last in the Western Conference with a lonely 25-57 record.
One of the players left over from the Nash era is center Marcin Gortat, who has been very productive in his time with Phoenix. His numbers were down from last season, but still averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.
To say that Gortat wasn’t pleased with some of the younger guys on the team would be an understatement. Via Pro Basketball Talk:
“Well, I would say we are missing character,” he said. “We are missing just strong minds on the team. We are just weak, mentally weak, basically. I would say that we just need more talent. We need more talent, we need more athletic, energetic guys, and people that want to compete and fight. That’s it.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the player,” he said. “If you don’t feel that you’ve got to work, if you feel comfortable that somebody’s coming into your house and punking your ass by 30 points every night, it’s not right. It’s just not right. I’ve been in the league six years now and I’ve never been in a situation like that.”
Gortat said that he tried a few times to provide some leadership, but that ultimately he didn’t feel like he had the cache to get the attention of his teammates.
“I tried at least to approach a few younger players during the season,” he said. “I don’t think I had the impact. I don’t think as a player, a six-year veteran, I have that impact yet. Definitely Jermaine O’Neal was the guy that was trying to convince a lot of the young guys to perform better.
“But I’ve got to tell you, when I was making it in the league, I was listening. I was listening and I had a lot of great veterans, I had a lot of great strong-minded people on the team. If I had tried to act like a smart-ass, or I tried to pretend like I know everything or understand everything, I’d get slapped in the head automatically, and [Stan Van Gundy in Orlando] would bring me back to earth. Like I said, I grew up in a great system. These young guys, there’s a lot of young guys who just think they’re better than they really are.”
Those are certainly strong words coming from one of the team’s veterans, and one of the better players on the team. There are plenty of younger players on this roster, and it’s not as if there was no talent. The Western Conference was obviously super competitive, but the team never seemed to mesh and come together.
You have to think that Michael Beasley is at the top of Marcin Gortat’s list, because you know, he’s Michael Beasley.
It will be interesting to see who is kept around by Suns management for next season. Maybe Gortat will be a little more happy at this time next year.
–Mark Evans, Assistant Manager/Editor of Content
Follow us on Twitter