Frank Vogel, Suns optimistic about piecing together roster beyond Big 3
Jun 27, 2023, 10:08 AM
Frank Vogel’s biggest challenge leading the Phoenix Suns might not be about massaging the egos of his superstars.
Devin Booker and Kevin Durant are low-maintenance in relative terms. Long as they can hoop at a high level, they should be happy.
Bradley Beal joins them with a similar reputation. He probably welcomes an opportunity to be listed as the third player on an opponent’s scouting report after trying to pull the Washington Wizards out of mediocrity for more than a decade.
“I love the time in his career we’re getting him, really in his prime,” Vogel told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “I feel like he’s in position to take that step with our group to be in a championship conversation.”
Vogel believes there’s a balance to reach with his stars, empowering them to be in the discussion about roster-building and schematic decisions. That, the head coach believes, will forge a partnership where star player input leads to star player buy-in. It’s easy to imagine Phoenix’s three stars will relish the chance to play with one another.
From there, things get messier.
Deandre Ayton, if he remains on the roster, will enter a 2023-24 season after his name was battered around in offseason trade rumors, including on Tuesday when Marc Stein reported the Suns and Dallas Mavericks had advanced conversations about moving the 2018 first overall draft pick just last week, during the draft.
Vogel during his introduction said Ayton has All-Star potential.
On Tuesday, he doubled down on that when asked by Bickley & Marotta about reaching the big man who has struggled with consistency issues.
“I think you can definitely reach all players,” Vogel said. “Players have to be inspired and have to feel good about their role and have to feel good about coming to work every day. If you create those types of situations for a player, the effort and motor piece just comes naturally.
“I’ve seen Deandre play with extreme effort. I’ve seen him play at a near-All-Star level quite frankly … I know it’s there. Obviously, he had some bumps in the road along the way but we’re at a point right now with a fresh start that I feel like he’s going to have a great season for us.”
Phoenix has six roster spots to fill after the Beal trade and the draft. General manager and president of basketball operations James Jones only has veteran minimum contracts to offer.
Vogel’s defense-first identity will prioritize players on that end of the court. The new Suns coach wants the team to build habits of outworking and outmuscling opponents.
“It starts with defenders and shooters to put around these guys,” Vogel said of the free-agent search. “To me, it’s who can come in here and be a star in their role. Sometimes you have to spend a lot of money contractually for players like that and sometimes you can get those role players on minimum contracts or lesser contracts. Those are the things we’ve really been combing the entire league for, who are the right names to fill in those spots because we have a great starting point.
“I think effort and motor are underrated characteristics of players when you look at and evaluate what their talent is. Some players’ talent is how hard they play. We want to get as many of those guys as we can get, that do it naturally, and the coaching staff is going to work their tails off to get all of our group performing at a high level from an effort standpoint.”