PHOENIX (AP) — With coach Alvin Gentry's pronouncement, "They're gone and they're not going to come back," the Phoenix Suns prepared to open their first training camp of the post-Steve Nash and Grant Hill era.
The Suns have six new players, not counting the five they added this week to pad the roster for the camp's opening in San Diego on Tuesday. The latter group includes former Arizona State standout forward Ike Diogu.
One newcomer isn't really new at all. Point guard Goran Dragic is in his second stint with the team. He was traded to the Houston Rockets in the 2010-11 season.
Others among the incoming are forward Luis Scola, forward Michael Beasley, guard Wesley Johnson, center Jermaine O'Neal, and rookie point guard Kendall Marshall, the team's first-round draft pick.
Now Gentry's job is to put this group together to compete in the West. Expectations from the outside are decidedly modest.
"We're not trying to chase the Lakers right now," Gentry acknowledged at the team's media day on Monday. "We're trying to re-establish what we're going to be and the culture of our team for years to come, and it will start on Tuesday."
He was asked if he believed this is a playoff team.
"I believe that we're going to compete every night and play hard, and I believe we're going to play unselfishly," Gentry said. "Whatever that brings, that's what we'll accept."
Dragic, self-effacing but full of confidence after taking over and playing well last season in Houston, return to the Suns to replace one of the best playmakers in the game's history.
"It's tough but still I'm not like Steve, nobody is like Steve," Dragic said. "He's one of a kind. I just want to be Goran Dragic. I know we have a different game, so I'll just try to be me, play hard as possible every night and give my team 100 percent."
Dragic will benefit from the presence of a teammate from Houston, Scola, the 6-foot-9 Argentine who looks forward to providing leadership on this exceedingly young team.
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