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Ainge can turn his team around mid-season. He did it with the Suns.


The Phoenix Suns started the 1996-97 season losing their first eight games. Charles Barkley had been traded prior to the season, and with the poor start, Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons was sent packing in favor of former Suns guard, Danny Ainge. Phoenix went 40-34 the rest of the way, making the playoffs.

The Suns were 17-31 before the All-Star Break and 23-11 thereafter. Aside from the coaching change, one key in the surge was the addition of future star, Jason Kidd during the season. As an aside, the team also had a young Steve Nash, in addition to veteran Kevin Johnson.

The Suns surge was rated as one of the most-dramatic second-half turnarounds in NBA history.  

5. 1996-1997 Phoenix Suns

    Before the Break: 17-31 (35.42 Percent)

    After the Break: 23-11 (67.65 Percent)

    Turnaround: 32.23 Percent

    Getting rid of Charles Barkley hurts, especially when you trade him for Mark Bryant, Chucky Brown and Robert Horry. 

    The 1996-1997 Phoenix Suns started the first season without Chuck by losing eight games in a row and watching as head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons stepped aside and was replaced by Danny Ainge. To make things right, the team traded for Jason Kidd, but he was immediately sidelined for six weeks after breaking his collarbone in his first game. 

    When Kidd returned, the team was sitting well short of the playoffs at 19-32. Then, they caught fire after one more disappointing 2-4 stretch.

    March came and went as the Suns won 12 games while losing just three and then went 7-3 in April to somehow post a 40-42 record and sneak into the playoffs.

    The Seattle SuperSonics knocked them out in five games, but hey, at least they got to make the exhilarating run to the postseason.  

    Can Danny Ainge accomplish this kind of mid-season turnaround as GM of the Boston Celtics? Boston lost Gordon Hayward in the off-season, much as the Suns lost Sir Charles prior to the turnaround . Will there be a coaching change similar to what Phoenix did? The Suns picked up Kidd, and that had a positive impact. Can Ainge find the right guy? Stay tuned.



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