It's always a bit of a kick to the gut when your NBA team doesn't qualify for the postseason.
After all, the NBA Playoffs aren't exactly the most exclusive party -- more than half the league gets an invite.
Pressing your nose against the glass to snoop on what's happening inside that party for two years in a row is downright depressing.
That's the boat the Phoenix Suns find themselves in -- dressed-up (for them) with nowhere to go.
It's not as if the Suns are a social pariah that would never considered for an invitation to the party -- that role is reserved for the booger-eating Charlotte Bobcats. No, the Suns are right on the cusp of inclusion, and like a slightly awkward teenager, they just need to tweak their look a little bit.
The good news is, the Suns have money to spend at the mall to freshen up their appearance in hopes of catching the eye of the party's host. The bad news is, most of the stores they want to shop at have a very limited selection of clothing left on the racks. This year's crop of unrestricted free agents isn't exactly awe-inspiring.
The Suns organization is in a strange position. They've potentially got $28 million of cap space to use when free agency starts in early July. But, according to team president Lon Babby, they're also armed with a sense of responsibility to do the right thing.
I understand the sentiment. Phoenix doesn't want to spend money just to spend money. They've done that in the past, and that strategy has them on the hook for over $30 million to Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick.
But as a sports fan, when was the last time you bragged to a buddy about your team's fiscal responsibility?
"I know your team is having a parade today to celebrate their championship, but my team's got cap space, so suck it!"
Yeah, that's never happened.
Babby met with the media Wednesday and talked about the state of the Suns moving forward. He mentioned that the Suns will likely match any offer tendered to restricted free agent Robin Lopez. Babby talked about how he'd love to see Grant Hill back in Phoenix...again.
And of course there's the seemingly never-ending Steve Nash discussion. Will he be back or will he sign elsewhere and chase a championship in some other team's uniform in the twilight of his career?
Babby said if it's a win-win for both Nash and the Suns, it's something they'll pursue.
The bigger issue is, do any of the above re-signings make the Phoenix Suns a better basketball team closer to winning a championship? The resoundingly clear answer is 'no'.
Lopez is a backup center who plays spotty minutes, has a limited offensive game and has battled foul trouble his entire career.
Hill is pushing forty, and his remarkable run of health in Phoenix after an injury-ravaged six-season stint in Orlando showed signs of ending during the 2011-12 campaign.
And Nash is in his late-30s, and despite playing for an offensively-challenged team, put up almost two less shots per game this season than any year since 1999-2000. Coincidence? Maybe. But more likely, Nash is losing his ability to free himself for easy field goal attempts.
In other words, the Suns can't show up next school year wearing the same 9-dollar jeans and rocking the same nerdy hairstyle and expect to get an invite to the big bash.
As hard as it will be, it's time to empty the closet, throw all of those clothes into a big plastic bag and leave it by the curb.
Steve and Grant, thanks for the memories and thanks for being great representatives of Phoenix and ambassadors of the game.
The Suns are faced with a decision: have a pocket full of money and stay home on Friday night watching reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos or reinvention.
I say it's time to head to the mall and drop some coin on a new look. The party awaits.