Cracking open this blog at about quarter to 1 o'clock AM, and you know what the last tweet from the Phoenix Suns is? This one, from 11:24 p.m. ET:
This included a 44-point first quarter by the Nuggets that ended on a 17-0 run. Aaaand Phoenix didn't put much of a dent into that halftime deficit, turns out.
I have never used the word "ZOIKS" in a blog before but this is now the time. Not quite onomatopoeia. Made famous by Norville "Shaggy" Rogers I believe. Also appropriate would be the classic Scooby-Doo line, "RUH-ROH!" I don't even WATCH Scooby-Doo. Why am I pushing this niche terminology so hard!?!?
I already went with the "unable to articulate just how bad this was" headline when the Suns got smoked 123-90 on their home floor by the Mavs in last year's playoffs.
This time around, Phoenix decided to go all-in for an aging, often hobbled Kevin Durant. As great as some of KD's flashes were in this series and as brilliant as Devin Booker was for much of the Suns' abbreviated run, the depth the Suns sacrificed to land KD wound up biting them in the ass HARD in the end.
I understand that whatever's left of Chris Paul wasn't playing the past several games. I also get that enigmatic center Deandre Ayton missed Thursday's contest. Booker wasn't himself either, as Monty Williams alluded to afterwards:
And yeah, the Nuggets deserve credit. They have this guy named Nikola Jokic who won two straight MVPs and was deserving of a third if not for Joel Embiid's exceptional season.
Not to write all that off like it's nothing. Because it isn't. Denver is the West's No. 1 seed after all. It's just that…man…the Suns…
They got WORKED. AGAIN. I feel for KenJac and all the Phoenix faithful out there. It's a bummer. You have KD chasing more history, CP3 desperately trying to win a ring before he retires, Booker questing for his maiden Larry O'Brien Trophy and a seemingly good coach in Williams in place. Many of the pieces appear to be there. It just ain't clicking when all the chips are down.
And granted, adding KD to the squad on the fly was a ballsy move in terms of building chemistry, yet it got off to such a promising start before, you know, he went and got hurt.
Kevin Durant must be wishing he had access to a multiverse lily pad where he could blast off, time travel and see how the myriad forking paths in his past might've played out. All these different decisions he could've made on every single one of his moves to three different teams since OKC.
This is a bit of a weird analogy but try to bear with me. I thought back to Matt Damon's interview when he talked about winning an Oscar for Good Will Hunting at such a young age. Damon realized how sad it would've been if that's what he was chasing his whole career, because once he got it, he instantly knew that the prestigious golden statue wouldn't fill any sort of hole inside of him that sought validation:
Quickly: DUH. Every NBA player's dream is to win a championship. If you're not shooting for that, why play the game? The difference with KD is that he was so obsessed with getting that notch in his belt and hyper-sensitive to how the outside world perceived him that he let that get in his head and define his decision-making.
KD's call to bolt the Thunder for Golden State was panned by almost everyone. OKC had the Dubs on the ropes with a 3-1 series lead in the conference semis that year! It was clear he took the path of least resistance to a championship. It's one thing to talk about The Big Three eras for the Celtics (KG, Pierce, Allen [Rondo]), and the Heat (LeBron, DWade, Bosh). This Warriors squad was a whole other level. Steph, Klay, Dray and Kevin Durant? They won 73 games the season before.
Predictably, KD felt empty when he won his two titles in the Bay Area and publicly admitted as much. He tried to alter/enhance his legacy by going to Brooklyn. Total dumpster fire. Wound up asking for a trade not once, but twice, and Phoenix — a sixty-four win team the season before, mind you — came to bail him out.
…And here we are again. No title in hand, far from certain that one is on the horizon and more mileage on those rail-thin legs.
Oh did I mention? KD started Thursday's game 1-for-10 from the field. WOOF. To his credit, like Williams, Durant didn't make any lame excuses afterwards.
Shoutout to Cheah for reminding the public just how prohibitive the cost was for the Suns to swing this blockbuster trade:
I feel bad for Kevin Durant at this point. He's a legend. One of the greatest all-around scorers to ever pick up a basketball. If you asked him if he had any regrets, he'd probably tell you to fuck off and say he doesn't have any.
Fair or not, the trolling anti-KD hounds will be out for blood en masse.
Where does Phoenix even go from here? Cameron Payne had 31 points tonight. Cool but it didn't really matter at all. Hmm…positive spin zone…yeah I'm at a loss. Let me kick the rock back over to KD:
One thing the Suns should try to do this summer find a way to get Deandre Ayton out of the picture. I have no fucking clue how you do that or if there'd be any realistic takers who'd give Phoenix a decent-enough haul to pull the trigger. Another factor to bear in mind: CP3's contract is only partially guaranteed for 2023-24 and is non-guaranteed in the final year of his deal. We could be looking at a buyout situation, barring some miraculous recovery and a shocking return to All-Star caliber form.
What else can you say? The Phoenix Suns are fucked. What're they gonna do? Fire Monty Williams? Sure I guess. Convenient scapegoat. Mike Budenholzer won a damn championship over the Suns in '21 and got canned recently. But by all accounts, Williams a pretty damn respected coach around the league. Maybe he'll bow out voluntarily to escape the shit show.
With all the assets sacrificed for KD, it' not like the Suns have the means to make a big splash for another superstar. For lack of superior alternatives, they may be forced to run it back, pray everyone stays healthy and hope for the best. Tough scene.
Anyway, congrats to the Denver Nuggets. You either get the Warriors or Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Either series is going to be awesome. Don't get me wrong. Looking forward to that. Just still kind of stunned trying to process this latest laid egg by the Suns as they continue searching for their first championship.