DAN BICKLEY

Ricky Rubio signing not enough to spark Phoenix Suns revolution

Jun 30, 2019, 6:25 PM | Updated: 8:58 pm

(AP Photo/Matt York)  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)...

(AP Photo/Matt York) (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Suns remain NBA champions at baby steps. They added a point guard and a highly-respected head coach, only to fall further behind in the Western Conference. It’s becoming painfully obvious that the new general manager is a high-contact singles hitter.

Yes, James Jones improved his basketball team in his first real chance at overhaul. I personally like Ricky Rubio a great deal. But for all their maneuvering, the Suns are barely good enough to win 30 games next season. Their defiance of D’Angelo Russell was as derelict as it was suspicious. And it sounds like just another con job to me.

First, the biggest change, where Rubio is Arizona’s newest point guard. I first met Rubio at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when he was just 18, all razzle and dazzle. He was a basketball prodigy, making his Spanish League debut at age 14. He was rumored to be the next Pete Maravich, an artist and creator.

He’s never reached that impossible ceiling. But at age 28, he remains a colorful, creative player capable of wizard-like assists. He’s a great cultural fit in Phoenix, where players of his ilk have flourished in the past. There will be nights when he reminds you of Steve Nash, and he’s a clear victory over the worst-case scenario (Cory Joseph).

But you can’t look at Rubio without acknowledging: Jones didn’t just give away T.J. Warren. He gave away an asset in order to give him away – one of his team’s most improved players.

And that wasted draft pick attached to the Warren deal surely hurt Jones when he needed to move back into the draft to acquire a backup point guard, Ty Jerome.

Such reckless maneuvering is only acceptable if you’re frantically creating salary cap space, clearing the decks for a premier free agent. Rubio is not that guy.

Also, Jones received only one year of Dario Saric after trading down five spots in the draft, giving up the chance to draft Coby White. That’s the high-ceiling point guard who broke down in disbelief when Jones reached badly for White’s college teammate, Cam Johnson, a nice player but terribly unworthy of the No. 11 pick.

And then he squandered the cap space he cleared for a potential max player on a backup center, virtually assuring disappointment on the first official night of NBA free agency.

The depression of Planet Orange has felt profound over the past two weeks. Fans desperately wanted to believe the Suns were fooling everyone – because their public stance on Russell was both foolish and short-sighted. They reportedly felt he wasn’t a fit in Phoenix, where he would bog down their offense by not sharing the basketball. The logic was for pinheads.

Russell is great friends with Devin Booker. If he came to Phoenix, he would be the newest addition in Booker’s city. He would not arrive with a sense of entitlement, and he would certainly defer to Booker at all times. Because he would be coming here to play with Booker.

Even better, the acquisition of Russell would’ve opened a window for the acquisition of Karl-Anthony Towns. Unfortunately, only the Timberwolves understood the severity of the situation, and how the chaos of free agency 2019 was also a ladder for teams looking for dramatic improvement.

The Suns have not checked that box. They’ve added marginally better players across the board. They’ve assembled respectable point guards. But as too often happens in Phoenix, there were too many other teams playing high-stakes poker. The NBA is currently defined by aggressive, ambitious general managers, from Toronto to Boston, from Houston to New Orleans.

That’s not the story in Phoenix, where Rubio, Aron Baynes and more Kelly Oubre does not qualify as a revolution. And when it comes to underwhelming in free agency, it appears that Jones will not disappoint.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Array

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Dan Bickley

LeBron and Bronny James chat...

Dan Bickley

Could Phoenix Suns fans truly embrace LeBron, Bronny James?

Do you want to win your first championship courtesy of LeBron James? It’s a relevant question with reports the Suns plan to work out Bronny.

3 days ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Is Diamondbacks OF Corbin Carroll finally breaking out of his sophomore slump?

After Corbin Carroll's triple aided the Arizona Diamondbacks enroute to a 6-0 shutout and series win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dan Bickley wonders if the outfielder could be breaking out of his early season slump.

4 days ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Happiness needs to be key offseason get for Phoenix Suns

Dan Bickley didn't see much joy or happiness out of this year's Phoenix Suns, so he'd like to see the team do a better job of engaging with their fanbase and each other come next season.

5 days ago

Devin Booker...

Dan Bickley

It’s on Devin Booker to shift Suns’ course, compete with NBA’s next generation

Devin Booker needs to change course and focus. He needs to play at an MVP level to help the Suns compete with the NBA's next generation.

6 days ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Arizona is much better at putting out a welcome mat than putting up sports banners

On Tuesday's Bickley Blast Dan Bickley talks about how Arizona can host events but can't win them.

6 days ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Why Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer is in the hot seat

Dan Bickley explains why there is no seat hotter than the head coach position with the Phoenix Suns and what fans can expect after Mike Budenholzer was officially introduced by the organization on Friday.

7 days ago

Ricky Rubio signing not enough to spark Phoenix Suns revolution