Phoenix Suns enter media day still without an answer at point guard
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns made it clear what they thought of point guard Brandon Knight when they dealt him to the Houston Rockets in late August without another move in place to acquire a new starting point guard.
It’s even more transparent on the team’s media day Monday. No additional move has been made, despite the Suns’ efforts during the summer to address the need and The Athletic’s Shams Charania’s reporting his expectation was for a move to happen by training camp, which starts on Tuesday.
The most experienced point guard on the training camp roster is Isaiah Canaan.
Canaan is a serviceable veteran with 205 games of NBA action, but more so, he’s serviceable as a third or fourth point guard on the end of the bench as a fill-in in case of injuries. He did that last year for the Suns, but now he enters the 2018-19 season as by far the most tenured lead guard on the roster.
His primary competition will be second-year guard Shaquille Harrison.
Harrison has what many players across the league don’t have: a signature skill that can swing games. His defense can do that, but he can’t consistently create his own offense, a must for NBA point guards so opposing defenses give enough respect for the floor to open up. He also has only 23 games of NBA experience.
There are also second-round picks Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton, who offer a nice ying-and-yang of playmaking offense and shutdown defense, respectively.
“We’re young there, we’re inexperienced there,” general manager Ryan McDonough said of the point guards. “We have really high hopes for the two guys that were in the 2018 draft class.”
With a strong camp and preseason, either rookie could emerge.
To be fair, though, that says more about the team’s current floor general situation than the rookies themselves.
That’s why head coach Igor Kokoskov said Monday the position will be about being inventive with how they operate in their offense.
“We use the term blender,” he said. “Drive-and-kick and (an) extra pass, attacking from all different angles. Let ’em figure (it) out so it’s not one guy on a spotlight and everyone standing and watching.”
The coach wouldn’t commit to a starter and said the point guards who play will have shorter stretches of minutes.
“We’re trying to conceptually turn what you can call a weakness into a strength,” Kokoskov said.
McDonough mentioned they will continue to evaluate trade options.
98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro has reported some buzzworthy names this summer. Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, Terry Rozier and Patrick Beverley have all been discussed in the team’s search that has been going on for a majority of the offseason.
Being creative with lineups and their depth on the wing while continuing to look for a deal seems to be the plan for now, but all that mattered Monday was a new and notable name at the position not being present.
McDonough said the three-year rebuilding process is over, but they are starting the next stage without a starting-caliber point guard, a fact that cannot be ignored despite the positive momentum the team developed in the offseason.