Phoenix Suns free agency targets on minimum: Guards
Jun 27, 2023, 11:11 AM
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
It’s time to get active at yard sales. Peruse the bargain bin. Go thrifting.
The Phoenix Suns enter free agency on Friday afternoon with the veteran’s minimum at their disposal. In order for them to land rotation-caliber players, those names would have to take a discount.
There are reasons to believe this will happen.
Phoenix has four spots in the rotation on the current roster set: Deandre Ayton, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. It can offer a chance at not only legitimate playing time but competing for a starting position.
On top of that, the Suns have re-established themselves in the last three years as one of the league’s marquee franchises with a new practice facility in an area people want to live. It would be on a contending team that has an excellent chance to win a championship with two superstars who are renowned for how easy they are to play alongside.
Realistically, it’s hard to be, erm, realistic about free agency, given the guessing that has to be done about who will be available at what price ranges. Aim too low and all the Suns fans reading this will end it melting into a puddle of despair. Aim too high and all the Suns fans reading this will expect too much, submitting time off for the parade 11 months in advance.
We will land somewhere in the middle, showcasing both the players that almost certainly will go for the veteran’s minimum and targets who could come to Phoenix in search of a title while resetting their own value ahead of next summer.
First up is guards, where the Suns will need some mix of floor generals and off-ball, defensive-minded names to go with Beal and Booker (and probably Cam Payne).
‘Please Come Take A Discount To Win And Play A Lot*’ Tier
The asterisk is in place since this position will consist of three guys on the back-half of their careers to some extent, so that playing time guarantee is contingent of them, you know, not regressing significantly like guys at this point in their journey often do.
Dennis Schroder is perhaps the easiest dot to connect from the entire free agent class. With his time playing for Frank Vogel in L.A., Schroder would be a tidy defensive fit and has adapted well to more of an off-ball role. And when he’s on it, Schroder gets to the rim, a skill the Suns need to keep addressing. He took 53% of his shots from around the basket (26%) or floater territory (27%), per Cleaning the Glass.
In a similar shoutout but requiring a separation into the “Hey You Broke The Face Of The Franchise’s Nose During One Of The Most Important Moments Of His Life And Would He Be Chill With You As A Teammate?” Tier, it’s Patrick Beverley. The defense and “winning player” attributes speak for themselves across his NBA career.
His Chicago Bulls tenure is confusing. He seemed to help turn a tide, going 13-9 in his appearances, and getting some credit in doing so. But Chicago outscored teams by 10.6 points per 100 possessions when Beverley was on the bench in those games, according to NBA Stats.
If the Suns want to go with even more offensive firepower in the guard depth, Eric Gordon’s $20.9 million is non-guaranteed next year and he’s worth mentioning in case the Los Angeles Clippers are unable to renegotiate a deal off of that this week. Gordon’s still one of the NBA’s better shooters, has some juice left to attack the basket and showed in the playoffs he has a desire to defend physically on the ball.
‘Star In Your Role So We Get You P-A-I-D Next Summer’ Tier
Speaking of offense, Seth Curry is one of the most efficient 3-point shooters in the association’s history. Big statement, eh? There have been 377 players to take at least 1,500 3s and Curry’s 43.5% ranks fifth all time, per Stathead. On top of that, Curry packs an underrated scoring punch and can playmake a tad as well. He feels too expensive but won’t find a better situation as a floor-spacing guard that wouldn’t have to be on the ball.
On that front, the Philadelphia 76ers moved Shake Milton all over the place, from starter to bench constant through a roster with three great guards. Milton is a big guard who can score and initiate. He’s coming from a star-heavy situation that didn’t go great for him, so perhaps a different type of roster is a better spot. But Phoenix still has to consider some type of supplementary ball-handlers, and Milton could essentially be the “third guard.”
Former Suns guard Jevon Carter is worth a brief mention but the concept behind this section is basically what happened for him with the Milwaukee Bucks last year and he should get a solid contract coming from somewhere. A guy that could follow in his footsteps in Dennis Smith Jr.
Under defensive-minded Steve Clifford in Charlotte, Smith played fantastic defense on an awful team that has shifted his identity around the league to reinvigorate his career. The former No. 9 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft got to his fifth team in five years and that appeared to trigger the change into using his athleticism the right way.
After the way Smith’s bounced around, landing in the right place has to be a priority for him. Becoming the high-energy pest off the bench for a winner would be a logical next step, setting Smith up to cash in next summer. Under Frank Vogel on a team this talented, he’d do just that.
‘One of You Surely Still Has It’ Tier
Look, man. All of these veteran point guards have been pretty darn good at some point but are all coming off situations when they didn’t play much and/or lacked the impact in their games they once had.
At least one of them will find the right fit to still show they’ve got something left in the tank, like Schroder did with the Lakers last year.
Goran Dragic and Reggie Jackson use their on-ball prowess to provide value as scorers. Ish Smith does that in a different way as more of a playmaker, like Raul Neto. Cory Joseph‘s defense did not look great in Detroit last year, a key part of who he was in the past. Ditto for George Hill at 37 years old.
The Suns will want to have a seasoned point guard. Payne’s spot on the roster also feels like the depth chart position one of these names would take. Would the free agents offer something more effective or a different-enough skill set?