Pacific Notes: Suns, Lakers, Collison

Owner Robert Sarver tells Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic that he feels “OK,” but not “great” about his surprising Suns, who sit at 24-17 in seventh place in the West

“We’re a work in progress,” he said. “What I feel really good about, and what I feel, is optimism. It’s optimism that we have some really good pieces, a good coaching staff and a number of assets that, if we make smart decisions, will lead us back to the elite level of play.”

Sarver had much more to say, and we covered his comments on Eric Bledsoe earlier today. We’ll pass along another item of note from Bickley’s interview amid our look at the Pacific Division:

  • Suns president of basketball ops Lon Babby endorsed Jeff Weltman, then with the Bucks and now with the Raptors, for the Phoenix GM job this summer, but Sarver made the decision to hire Ryan McDonough instead, according to Bickley.
  • The Lakers aren’t sure they want to make a significant investment in any free agent other than LeBron James this summer, so they’ll probably instead pursue lower-tier free agents with short-term deals and gear up for 2015, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding writes. Regardless, the team won’t use the draft as its primary vehicle toward contention, according to Ding.
  • Darren Collison‘s success in place of Chris Paul raises the odds that he’ll opt out of his contract, as Jeff Caplan of surmises. Collison signed his deal with the Clippers when it became apparent to him that the Mavs didn’t want him back, a stance the point guard saw as disrespectful. “As a competitor you look at it that way,” Collison said. “They had their situation. I’m just glad that I fell into a situation like the Clippers that’s given me an opportunity. Now I have a chance to play for a contending team that’s going to try to play for something more special.”
  • Marcin Gortat is grateful to the Suns and says he harbors no hard feelings about their decision to trade him this past fall, though he admits there will be emotions involved as he returns to Phoenix with the Wizards for tonight’s game. Michael Lee of The Washington Post has more.
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