Should the Suns have urgency to add a PG before the trade deadline?
With the NBA trade deadline less than two weeks away, the Phoenix Suns could actually be buyers despite having one of the worst records in the league. Empire of the Suns discusses that possibility and how they should approach the gaping hole at point guard.
Kellan Olson: Kevin, the Phoenix Suns are in an odd spot.
They are 11-39 and their two biggest pieces, who also happen to be their best players, are 20 and 22 years old. So this is a good ole’ fashion rebuild, right?
We both know that is not the case, especially when owner Robert Sarver came on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo after firing general manager Ryan McDonough and said the rebuilding is over.
The team is clearly going to continue stagnating until an upgrade is made at point guard, as can be seen with the play of Devin Booker this month.
Does this mean they should prioritize adding a piece before the deadline?
Kevin Zimmerman: There are three ways to slot my answer, depending on what’s available on the market. But before we get to those, the answer is, “yes.” Yes, they should add a point guard if at all possible. They must go down one of these three roads.
1) They find a stop-gap player who would cost, say, a second-round pick. That player could play heavy minutes, take pressure off Booker and be a floor general. Now, if that player exists and whether a newcomer can learn Igor Kokoskov’s offense enough for this to work is a matter I don’t know.
2) They go after Mike Conley (more on him later).
3) If neither of the two options are available and there just aren’t guards that fit, the Suns can suffer through this season. But they’d better spend — and maybe overspend — in the summer. This is entirely possible, and I wouldn’t entirely believe the Suns are doing the wrong thing if they go this direction. But yeah, doing something now would be preferable.
Olson: Option three is particularly interesting because this is a low-key deep free agent class of point guards we will discuss in part two. That leads me to believe the Suns think they can be either the top bidder or in a race for a name like Jeff Teague (if he declines his player option) or Ricky Rubio.
But I’ve been in favor of option one since the beginning of the season when we discovered we are almost certainly going to have another season threatening 60 losses. I was even willing to throw in the protected first-round pick from the Bucks for a guy like Patrick Beverley or drastically overpay for Terry Rozier.
Keeping Booker happy, even after paying him, is the priority. I think it’s fair for us to interpret that he’s already upset about all the losing and players of his caliber don’t stick around situations like this too long, even after signing big-money deals.
You can sense the need for urgency to turn this situation around. Fast.
With that being said, give me the sales pitch on giving up an asset for a 30-game rental.
Zimmerman: Let’s presume they put together an overpay with the Bucks pick, which, remember, is protected for 2019 if it is 1-3 or 17-30. The Bucks have the best winning percentage in the NBA right now at 34-12, meaning it’s going to the 2020 NBA Draft, when it’s just 1-7 protected and should convey. That pick ain’t doing the Suns a whole lot of good sitting in the asset bin.
So, what could be done with it? Beverley would be an overpay since he’s a free agent, but there are other options out there.
The Raptors have an overload at guard, and they’ve been giving both Delon Wright (a restricted free agent this summer) and Patrick McCaw spot minutes, and maybe Wright could be had since McCaw was just signed. The Pacers could part with soon-to-be free agents Darren Collison or Cory Joseph — though Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury complicates things, as do their contracts of greater than $7 million each.
Because of his situation and reasonable contract that won’t require a lot to go back, Wright looks like a potential fit who could even be re-signed if he shows out. And he might be worth an overpay for a team that, like you said, needs something.
Olson: I think we should touch on the upcoming NBA Draft before we transition in part two to more point guard names to watch on the trade and free agent market.
Murray State’s Ja Morant has quickly gone from potential lottery pick to potential top-five pick. He’s explosive, dynamic and looks like he could be a complete point guard, in time.
Suns fans are getting excited about him and I don’t blame them, but he is not a name that is going to fix this problem. Look, if there was a no-doubt No. 1-caliber top point guard in this class like Kyrie Irving or John Wall, maybe we can discuss this further.
But Morant is the type of point guard you project that is going to take a couple years to become a top-20 point guard, even if he even turns out to be one. The Suns can’t afford that type of patience.
What they can afford to do, though, is pass on another 18, 19 or 20-year-old and instead move their first-round pick for someone who can help Deandre Ayton and Booker lead the Suns out of this nightmare for a few seasons before the duo is well-seasoned enough to do it on their own.
We will hit on some names who could do that next time.