Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we last did an edition of Inside the Suns but it’s finally back and with a few changes.
Long time Fantable member Sun-Arc has decided to retire from the table and I’m sure everyone is already aware that SDKyle (aka Kyle Glazier) moved on into the ranks of the BSotS staff. Many thanks to both of them for all of their many past contributions as members of the Fantable! They helped make this fun instead of a chore and I’ve come to think of them (as well as the other current FT members) as friends as well as fellow Suns fans.
This week we’ve not only got new Fantable questions and answers, we have two new FT members, Cliff30 and OldAz. You’ve joined just in time for a Suns offseason that looks to be full of questions that should keep all of us busy contemplating possible answers.
Welcome to the Fantable guys!
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 – What do you think the odds are (50-50, 40-60, etc.) that Deandre Ayton will NOT be with the Suns next season?
GuarGuar: I think it’s 75-25 that Ayton will NOT be back next season. And if he does come back we will look to trade him before the deadline. It seems like everyone is ready to move on. Ayton wants to have a bigger role. And management is upset at him giving up on the team. We have to get big time value for Ayton though. And if we can’t we just have to match any offer and hope for the best.
OldAz: I am a huge DA fan (despite a strong disdain for that team down south). I love that he sacrificed his individual game to develop team centric skills, especially on defense. I believe the Suns did him wrong by not paying him last summer (possibly the fault of DA’s agents in only entertaining the 5 year option) but also by not paying back DA’s efforts and developing him as an individual offensive weapon. This takes consistent, intentional game reps that simply never came. That said, I put the odds of DA coming back at 75%, although when I break down the why it depresses me.
- Scenario #1 (25%) – DA is not back and the Suns find a trade partner this off season for a SnT. If this is the plan, the Suns must get it right and acquire a true superstar in return, preferably one who is forcing their way out of town (Lillard, KG, some Laker not named Westbrook, etc.). This plan must provide a championship in the last couple years of CP3 because after that the Suns ceiling looks a lot more like the Jazz and Nuggets from these last 2 years and it could be a lot worse than that. Side note: I HATE the idea of cobbling together aging veterans to win a title, but I also never complained and celebrated just as much when the Dbacks went this route.
- Scenario #2 (50%) – DA stays because the Suns refuse to lose him for nothing, but they continue to focus on the “CP3/Book show” and look for a trade partner later. This is the most likely scenario IMO but has so very many ways that it ends badly and the things DA does do well often get overlooked and are hard to replace.
- Scenario #3 (25%) – I know I am over estimating this one, but I am still going to hold out hope until James Jones crushes it by moving DA. This is the right option to me. DA is signed by the Suns to a 3+1 or 4 year deal and Monty recognizes his failure to develop the young core outside of Booker and brings in an X’s & O’s assistant to replace Willie Green and help with in-game adjustments. The Suns emphasize defensive intensity and most importantly developing DA, Bridges and Cam J to be individual offensive threats (see my answer to question 3). That way there are more options come playoff time instead of being glorified role players who can’t get going when teams bully CP3 and Book.
Like I said, my preferred scenario is highly unlikely, but shame on the Suns if they squander so much home-grown young talent to focus on a guard centric offense that has proven incapable of holding up through a long physical playoff run.
Cliff30: The fact that it’s even 1% that we might lose an RFA of his talent level is mind boggling. But at this point I do think it’s about 50-50 that he’s gone. Sarver has a history of being cheap. An Ayton near max deal makes certain we’re a LT payer for a long time. He’s going to be very hesitant to do so. I have no idea what the “internal issue” is. But that has certainly given Sarver more cover to let Ayton go and pretend it’s for basketball reasons rather than financial ones. I hope I’m wrong about that and they work out an extension quickly.
Q2 – It’s become fairly obvious that the Suns need a better backup point guard, preferably one who could grow into a starting PG. Do you think it’s possible the Suns could swing a trade for someone to fill that need this summer and who would you like to see them go after?
GuarGuar: I’d love to see if we could get a Donte Dinvincenzo or Eric Gordon type of guy. We need a scorer who can also initiate offense. Payne was not the same guy last year unfortunately. I don’t know who is available to trade for that fits that role. But I’d be surprised if we didn’t make a move to replace Payne.
OldAz: This is a tough one because backup PGs, like grass, don’t grow in the shade. We have seen that for years in AZ as no backups developed under Nash, Kidd or KJ and CP3 casts just as big of a shadow and leaves very few minutes on the table. That being said, I would want someone like we saw in the playoffs this year: pesky on ball defense, able to hit shots, and can trigger the offense as any PG should. Think of those guys you hated when they played the Suns.
Of the free agents to be, Dennis Schroder will be available as will Jalen Brunson, although I expect the Mavs to prioritize keeping him. Pre-CP3 and even before Rubio, the PG I always wanted for the Suns was Jrue Holiday when he was with NOLA. His offense really blossomed in Milwaukee and he is now a core piece for them. Personally, I would like the Suns re-sign his younger brother Aaron as I believe he could check all the boxes I noted. I know a lot of Suns fans were frustrated that Holiday did not get more of a “try-out” this year, but I am hoping that was partially by design to keep his cost down and that the Suns will start throttling back CP3s minutes next year to give a player like Holiday some run.
Cliff30: I definitely think it’s possible that they make a trade for a PG. I think there are a lot of possible targets. MJ apparently wants to avoid the LT in the future when Ball and Bridges are getting paid significantly more. So much so that he’s been rumored to be interested in Westbrook’s expiring contract. That means Terry Rozier is likely available and I think he fits our needs perfectly. The Pacers are in complete rebuild and while his recent injury history is concerning, Malcolm Brogdon would obviously be a great add, he has the size that three guard lineups with him Book and CP3 would still be good defensively. I’d also like to see them swing bigger trade ideas.
Is OKC going to be ready to compete soon enough to justify keeping SGA? I’d offer three unprotected firsts to find out. The Sabonis trade really didn’t give the Kings the lift they were hoping for, are they still sold on De’Aron Fox as “the guy”? Again I’d offer all our picks to find out. I know it’s all unlikely but I think JJ needs to be thinking splash move, not tinkering at the margins.
Q3 – Other than the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception and the Bi-Annual Exception, the Suns have very little cash to use in free agency or in bringing back any of their own unrestricted free agents (McGee, Biyombo, Wainright, Payton, Lundberg ) this year. Should any of their own UFAs be considered priorities or should they use the exceptions to go after other UFAs?
GuarGuar: The only guy I maybe would bring back is Biz. He’s more versatile defensively than JaVale. But none of our UFA’s were worth that much to the team this year.
OldAz: This really depends on the DA decision. If DA is coming back, then I would prioritize continuity. McGee and Biyombo were duplicative this year to an extent, but Monty really just started experimenting with having 2 “bigs” on the floor. Wainright should not be expensive and Iffy is expendable. Plus, the players we are talking about here are key in the regular season but end up with reduced/specialized roles come playoff time anyway. I would rather have as much continuity with this year’s team that won 64 games. Run that team back with the renewed focus on spending practice and game minutes on developing the young core as true offensive weapons.
This is outside of the scope of the question, but Cam J needs to be forced into the role he played in the Knicks game. Bridges needs to be challenged to “go get his” even when he has a tough defensive assignment. And if DA is here (I am still holding out hope), significant stretches need to be run with him as the focal point of the offense. Consistent game reps are needed to build these skills and prepare them for the playoffs.
Having continuity in the 8-12 spots on the roster helps run this year’s offense as plug-and-play and instead focus valuable practice time and game reps on these key development areas. The Suns should have been doing this for the last 2 years. The tragedy of this failure by the management and coaching staff is that it costs a whole lot more money to do it going forward.
Cliff30: Obviously the dream scenario would be that the full MLE is enough to lure Jalen Brunson. But in reality he probably gets double that in FA. I think a UFA target that’s more realistic is Tyus Jones. He’s been a solid backup PG for Memphis and he has been solid as a starter when Ja was down, including in the post-season.
If we’ve solved our guard issue via trade or can’t sign anybody with the MLE then I think another interesting target that might be in our price range is Chris Boucher as a more traditional PF option. Had a down year from three, but hopefully he bounces back. He’s very active on the boards (especially on offense) and can provide some offense in the paint.
Of our own UFA I would prioritize bringing back Biyombo, hopefully he’d accept the Bi-Annual Exception. I think he was more consistent all year, and he earned Monty’s trust in the playoffs, I also expect him to cost less than JaVale. Although I also think that if we sign Ayton and are in the LT Sarver may opt to not use any of these exceptions and just fill out the roster with minimum signings.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members – GuarGuar, OldAz and Cliff30 – for all their extra effort! (SouthernSun and Alex S did not participate this week.)
Interesting Suns Stuff
Deandre Ayton’s Uncertain Future With The Phoenix Suns
Previous Poll Results
The previous ITS poll was “The Suns’ series against Dallas will be…”
02% – More difficult than the Pelicans series.
82% – Easier then the Pelicans series.
16% – About the same level of difficulty.
A total of 264 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…