Welcome to Inside the Sun, your weekly in-depth analysis of the current phoenix suns team.
It’s been a few weeks since we last made Inside the Suns, but it’s finally back with some changes.
Longtime Fantable member Sun-Arc has decided to retire from the poker table, and I’m sure everyone already knows that SDKyle (aka Kyle Glazier) has entered the ranks of the BSotS staff. Many thanks to both of them for all their past contributions as Fantable members! They helped make this fun rather than a chore, and I’ve come to see them (and other current FT members) as friends and Suns fans.
Not only do we have new Fantable questions and answers this week, we also have two new FT members, Cliff30 and OldAz. You’ve just joined the Suns in an offseason that looks fraught with questions that should keep us all busy thinking about possible answers.
Welcome to the Visionary!
Whimsical Question of the Week
Q1 – What do you think are the odds (50-50, 40-60, etc.) that Deandre Ayton won’t be with the Suns next season?
Guar Gual: I think the odds of Ayton not coming back next season are 75-25. If he does come back, we’ll consider trading him at the deadline. It seems everyone is ready to move on. Ayton wanted to play a bigger role. Management was upset that he was giving up the team. We have to get a huge time value for Ayton, though. If we can’t, we just need to match any offer and hope for the best.
Old Az: I’m a big DA fan (albeit very disdainful of that team in the South). I love that he sacrificed his individual game to develop his team-focused skills, especially defensively. I believe it was wrong for the Suns to not pay him last summer (probably the fault of DA’s agent only accepting a 5-year option) and not reward DA for his efforts and develop him into a personal offensive weapon. This requires consistent, intentional representations of the game that simply don’t appear. That said, I see a 75% chance of DA coming back, although when I break down why it frustrates me.
- Scenario #1 (25%) – DA didn’t come back and the Suns found a trade partner for SnT this offseason. If that’s the plan, the Suns have to do it right and get a real superstar in return, preferably one that’s forcing the gate out (Lillard, KG, some Lakers not named Westbrook, and many more). The plan has to deliver championships in the final years of CP3, because after that the Suns’ ceiling looks more like the Jazz and Nuggets of the past two years, and probably worse than that. Side note: I hate the idea of piecing together aging veterans to win a championship, but I also never complained and celebrated when the Dbacks went down this path.
- Scenario #2 (50%) – DA stays because the Suns refuse to lose him for nothing, but they continue to focus on “CP3/Book Show” and find a trade partner later. This is the most likely scenario IMO, but it goes in many ways, it turns out badly, and things that DAs do well are often overlooked and hard to replace.
- Scenario #3 (25%) – I know I’m overestimating this, but I’m still holding out hope until James Jones smashes it by moving DA. This is the right choice for me. DA signed a 3+1 or 4 year contract with the Suns, Monty recognized his failure to develop a young core outside of Booker and brought in an X&O assistant to replace Willie Green and help with the game adjustment in . The Suns emphasize defensive intensity and most importantly develop DA, Bridges and Cam J into individual offensive threats (see my answer to question 3). That way, there are more options in the playoffs than glorified role players who can’t play when the team bullies CP3 and Book.
Like I said, my favorite scenario is unlikely, but if the Suns waste so much homegrown young talent focusing on a guard-centric offense that has proven to be ineffective for long It would be a shame to persist in the playoffs.
Cliff 30: The fact that even 1% we might lose an RFA for his talent level is unbelievable. But at this point, I do think he’s gone about 50-50. Sarver has a history of being cheap. Ayton’s near-maximum transaction volume ensures that we are a long-term payer for the long term. He would be very hesitant to do so. I don’t know what the “internal problem” is. But it certainly gave Sarver more cover for Ayton to pretend it was for basketball reasons rather than economics. I hope I’m wrong and they fix the extension soon.
Q2 – Clearly the Suns need a better backup point guard, preferably someone who can grow into a starting point guard. Do you think it’s possible for the Suns to fill that need with a trade this summer? Who do you want to see them chasing?
Guar Gual: I’d love to see if we can get a Donte Dinvincenzo or Eric Gordon type of guy. We need a scorer who can launch offense. Unfortunately, Payne was not the same person last year. I don’t know who can trade for this role. But I’d be surprised if we don’t take action to replace Payne.
Old Az: It’s a tough process because backup PG, like grass, won’t grow in the shade. We’ve seen this at AZ over the years, as the same big shade hasn’t been developed under the leadership of Nash, Kidd or KJ and CP3, and with so little time left. Having said that, I want one like what we’ve seen in the playoffs this year: a nasty defense that can shoot and trigger offense like any PG. Think about the guys you hated when you were playing the Suns.
In free agency, both Dennis Schroder and Jalen Brunson are available, although I would expect the Mavs to prioritize keeping him. Before CP3, and even before Rubio, I always wanted the Suns’ PG to be Jrue Holiday when he was at NOLA. His offense has really blossomed in Milwaukee, and he’s at their core right now. Personally, I want the Suns to re-sign his younger brother Aaron because I believe he can check all the options I mentioned. I know a lot of Suns fans are frustrated that Holiday didn’t get more “trials” this year, but I hope it’s partly to lower his cost and that the Suns will start reducing CP3 minutes next year for a year Give a player like Holiday some runs.
Cliff 30: I definitely think it’s possible for them to trade for PG. I think there are many possible targets. MJ clearly wants to avoid LT in the future when Ball and Bridges are paid significantly more. So much so that there are rumors that he is interested in Westbrook’s expiring contract. That means Terry Rozier is likely to be available and I think he fits our needs perfectly.this Pacers In full rebuild, and while his recent injury history is worrisome, Malcolm Brogdon would clearly be a great addition, and he’s big enough to keep Book and CP3’s three-guard lineup still on the defensive end. good. I would also like to see them come up with bigger trade ideas.
Is OKC ready to compete as soon as possible to justify keeping the SGA? I’ll provide three unprotected firsts to find out. The Sabonis trade really didn’t give the Kings the boost they were hoping for, are they still on De’Aron Fox for sale as “that guy”? Again I offer all our options to find out. I know it’s unlikely, but I think JJ needs to think about the splash action instead of tinkering around the edges.
Q3 – The Suns are in free agency or bring back any unrestricted free agent (McGee, Biyombo, Wainwright, Payton, Lundberg) except for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and biennial exception cash on hand) this year. Should any of their own UFAs be considered a priority, or should exceptions be used for other UFAs?
Guar Gual: The only person I might bring back is Biz. He is more complete defensively than JaVale. But none of our UFAs this year are that much value to the team.
Old Az: It really depends on the DA’s decision. If DA comes back then I would prioritize continuity. McGee and Biyombo have been somewhat repetitive this year, but Monty is really just starting to experiment with having two “big men” on the floor. Wainright shouldn’t be expensive, while Iffiy is a consumable. Also, the players we’re talking about here are key players in the regular season, but ultimately play a reduced/specialized role in the playoffs. I’d rather have as much continuity as a team that won 64 games this year. Refocus on developing a young core into a true offensive weapon, refocus on practice and game time to get this team back.
This is beyond the scope of the question, but Cam J needs to be forced to play him in Knicks game. Even though he has a tough defensive assignment, Bridges needs to be challenged to “get his.” If DA is here (and I’m still hopeful), a significant stretch is needed with him as the focal point of the offense. Consistent game reps are needed to develop these skills and prepare them for the playoffs.
Continuity at No. 8-12 on the roster helps run this year’s offense in a plug-and-play fashion, rather than focusing valuable practice time and game reps on these key developmental areas. The Suns should have been doing this for the past two years. The tragedy of this failure for management and the coaching staff is that it costs more money to keep going.
Cliff 30: Obviously, the ideal would be a full MLE enough to attract Jalen Brunson. But in reality he could get double the money in the FA. I think the more realistic UFA target is Tyus Jones. He’s been a solid backup point guard for Memphis, and he’s been solid as a starter when Jaa has struggled, including in the playoffs.
If we’ve solved our guard issues with a trade or can’t sign anyone with MLE, then I think another interesting target that might be in our price range is Chris Boucher as a more traditional PF option. After a three-year decline, hopefully he can bounce back. He’s very active on the rebound (especially on offense) and can provide some play in the paint.
In our own UFA, I would prioritize bringing back Biyombo, hoping he accepts the biennial exception. I think he’s been more consistent all season, he’s earned Monty’s trust in the playoffs, and I’d expect him to spend less than JaVale. Although I also think that if we signed Ayton and were in LT Sarver, there might be an option to not use any of those exceptions and just fill the roster with minimal signings.
As always, a big thank you to our Fantable members – GuarGuar, OldAz and Cliff30 – for all the extra effort they put in! (SouthernSun and Alex S did not attend this week.)
funny sun stuff
Deandre Ayton’s uncertain future with the Phoenix Suns
previous poll results
The previous ITS poll was “The Suns-Dallas series will be…”
02% – Harder than the Pelican series.
82% – Easier than the Pelican series.
16% – about the same difficulty.
A total of 264 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…