PHOENIX (AP) - A year ago, general manager Ryan McDonough and coach Jeff Hornacek were barely on the job.
And the task ahead was challenging - rebuilding a tattered Phoenix Suns franchise that had the worst record in the Western Conference in 2012-13.
This week, the tone couldn’t be more different. A huge turnaround season will do that.
The Suns were one of the NBA’s biggest surprises, going 48-34 and barely missing the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. They did it with a highly entertaining up-tempo style that made them the top fast-break team in the league.
Now buoyed by the kind of success that should have taken years to develop, the Suns have three first-round picks in Thursday’s draft - 14th, 18th and 27th.
There is a good possibility that one or two of those picks will disappear because of trades.
McDonough has said he doesn’t expect to bring three rookie first-round picks to training camp, because the roster is crowded as it is and the team already has two youngsters in the development stage - last year’s first-round picks Alex Len and Archie Goodwin.
One or more of this year’s picks could be used in a trade for the Suns to move up in the draft, although it would probably be no more than a few spots.
“I think we could get up to a certain extent,” McDonough said. “I’m not sure how far.”
The danger there, he said, is you give up draft picks to move up and discover the player you moved up to get would have been available at No. 14.
Phoenix is dealing with other significant personnel issues.
Point guard Eric Bledsoe becomes a restricted free agent. McDonough has repeatedly said the Suns would match anything another team offers, but they’d much rather sign him to a new deal in a hurry. Forward P.J. Tucker, the heart of the Suns’ energetic team last season and its best defender, also is a restricted free agent, and it’s unclear just how far the team is willing to go to keep him.
Then there’s forward Channing Frye, who opted out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. There is real concern in the Suns front office that Phoenix won’t be able to compete with some of the multi-year offers Frye might get elsewhere.
But this week, it’s the draft, and the Suns are worlds away from their mess of a year ago.
Predicting who will be selected in the 13 picks ahead of the Suns is impossible. The injury to center Joel Embiid has shaken up the upper reaches of the lottery picks.