EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Phoenix Suns free agency targets on minimum: Wings

Jun 28, 2023, 10:39 AM | Updated: 2:33 pm

Danny Green #14 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call during the game against the Charlotte H...

Danny Green #14 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on April 9, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Hornets beat the Cavaliers 106-95. (Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/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.

After covering guards, it’s time to look on the wing, where Phoenix reportedly has already taken a look at journeymen and former lottery picks Jabari Parker and Stanley Johnson.

‘Please Come Take A Discount To Win And Play A Lot*’ Tier

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

I understand a hesitancy from teams considering a financial commitment to Dillon Brooks. He’s probably going to get it from someone. But Phoenix would not be one.

I do not understand the lack of appreciation for what Brooks does well. He made Second Team All-Defense and can score, averaging 14.5 points per game over his career. His shot selection is largely atrocious, in need of serious refinement on a veteran-laden roster that would check him. Even with his deficiencies and erratic play style, Phoenix would not find a better fit to be the wing sandwiched by Beal and Durant given how Brooks defends and contributes elsewhere.

Brooks is going to have the choice between a pay day from a middling franchise or taking a gap year on a contender, proving he’s a winning player and not a distraction before getting the bag the following offseason. The issue for the Suns is even if they were hypothetically interested in him, there are playoff teams that can offer Brooks the taxpayer midlevel exception, twice as much as the minimum. But again, guys like Brooks will not find a better situation for a mix of playing time and title aspirations. All told, it would be quite the stretch of someone betting on themselves.

A key name to watch with guaranteed money deadlines is Gary Harris, who has $13 million become concrete on Friday if the Orlando Magic don’t waive him. Harris, still only 28 years old, just comes down to health. He’s an effective 3-and-D wing that got lost in Orlando after the Aaron Gordon trade. Contenders will be blowing up the phone of Harris’ agent if he becomes available.

Joe Ingles would not provide nearly as much defensively as those two but he’s just about perfect for the type of offensive players Phoenix needs to surround its Big 3 with. Smart connectors that can keep a possession alive and also knock down open shots. That’s Ingles still at this stage of his career, and he can also initiate offense.

‘Star In Your Role So We Get You P-A-I-D Next Summer’ Tier

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Looking at that type of role again with another lefty, it’s strange that Yuta Watanabe hasn’t stuck somewhere yet. He’s been through Memphis, Toronto and Brooklyn as a willing defender with a now-refined 3-point shot that is becoming elite. That is always slightly alarming when a player doesn’t stick for whatever reason but the 28-year-old has had to fight for playing time through very crowded rosters. Whole lot of room in Phoenix.

Another guy to file under, “Hey, what’s going on with you, pal?” is Josh Richardson. Once a prized second-round find by the Miami Heat, he has played for five teams in the last four seasons. Willie Green played him a fair bit when the New Orleans Pelicans’ season was on the line, a solid indicator he’s still providing something useful. There’s defense, playmaking and shooting in his arsenal. It’s just a matter of how much oomph it has now and that should interest teams like the Suns.

Jalen McDaniels is one of the more intriguing free agents this year, as he’s a tall (6-foot-9) and long wing coming off his rookie contract that defends. It was an interesting jump from the bottom-feeding Hornets to contending 76ers in a midseason move. He fell out of the rotation in the postseason after initially becoming an important cog for Philly. He’s got the athletic tools to defend stars, something he did often for the 76ers, and plays with good activity. If the Suns look elsewhere instead of retaining Torrey Craig and/or Josh Okogie, McDaniels taking a discount is a good outcome.

‘One of You Surely Still Has It’ Tier

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Any four of these guys could easily go in the above group, given the rightful value put on wings.

Danny Green tore his ACL and LCL in the 2022 postseason, so it may or may not be fair to write off the 36-year-old just yet after the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t use him much this past year. He was one of the better 3-and-D supporting cast members in the 2010s. At the very least, he’s a great addition to a locker room worth a flyer to see if he’s got more left beyond that.

Will Barton is similarly revered for the teammate he is and also the on-ball contributions a glue guy gives. He’s at a weird crossroads after an eight-year tenure with Denver ended and slight stops in Washington and Toronto didn’t produce much hype.

There was a time when Justise Winslow was a fascinating rising point forward who was also a menacing, versatile defender. It still is kind of that time after he played well in Portland but he just cannot avoid injuries. Justin Holiday’s case was as more of an under-the-radar wing with legitimate 3-and-D skills. He’s also now been on nine teams.

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Phoenix Suns free agency targets on minimum: Wings