Bradley Beal’s intro touched on all the ancillary Suns drama

Jun 29, 2023, 1:38 PM | Updated: 7:34 pm

Bradley Beal’s introduction as a member of the Phoenix Suns didn’t serve us any big surprises about Beal himself.

He basically was given a choice of where to land with the Washington Wizards rebuilding, and for reasons that start with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, that ended up being Phoenix.

“It was a difficult decision, honestly. It all came down to Washington and their front office. I respect them and what they’re doing,” he said. “I’m not going to get into what they do and other teams and the process … It was a tough one, I’m not going to sit here and say it was an easy one. I’ll let them answer those questions when the time comes.

“More or less it’s ‘go where you wanted.’ That’s the message I kind of received in the whole process.”

Beal will find a new challenge in combining his skillset and distributing the duties with Booker and Durant, and that’s a story to track for every day into an expectedly deep playoff run.

But the news cycle this week lent Beal’s introductory press conference to answer — or not answer — other things bubbling to the surface.

The Suns are making Deandre Ayton part of their star crew

Suns head coach Frank Vogel made sure to mention center Deandre Ayton as a piece right with the three perimeter stars. Beal, too, went all-in on building Ayton up as he’s been battered about in trade rumors and reports in the past week.

Vogel said there’s offensive potential to untap in Ayton and, like the last two Suns coaches, called the big man the defensive anchor.

“I haven’t had a chance to play with this type of talent level, ever,” Beal added. “I think DA can be a huge piece to our team. It’s tough ’cause we’re on the outside looking in always, but I see his value. I think he’s a really talented big, one of the best bigs in the league, and a really willing defender.

“Being around three other guys who can pretty much carry a team, I think that’s a totally different situation than I’m used to being a part of,” Beal added when joining Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke.

Jones addressed his role and CP3’s ugly departure

Chris Paul along with Landry Shamet and a bevy of draft picks and swaps were traded for Beal, Jordan Goodwin and Isaiah Todd. It didn’t publically appear to be a mutual parting from Paul’s perspective.

While on a tour promoting his new book, Paul expressed disappointment after he had been open about wanting to run it back with Phoenix.

Paul told the New York Times after the trade that he suspected new Suns owner Mat Ishbia and his friend Isiah Thomas, the embattled former New York Knicks executive, had made the decision to trade Paul for Beal. Paul said he’d heard of no such possibility when talking to president of basketball operations and GM James Jones just before the trade news broke.

That reignited curiosity about Jones’ role.

Hired by former owner Robert Sarver and promoted under the interim leadership of Sam Garvin, Jones has held steady as the face of the front office under Ishbia. That’s all despite reports of Ishbia’s involvement in the Kevin Durant deal,  the very obvious change in how the front office operates with aggression and Thomas’ presence around Suns playoff games.

“Mat’s awesome. He’s been extremely awesome to work with,” Jones said Thursday. “My role has expanded as you see with this recent transaction that we made to acquire Bradley. Working with Mat, with (new CEO Josh Bartelstein), with Frank, it’s been great for me. It’s allowed me to improve my team, my team with me in basketball operations. We’ve been able to push forward with some really big, I’d say some really high or big asks. And we’ve been able to accomplish it as a team.

“Just as a whole, we’ve been encouraged and charged with doing bigger things,” Jones added. “When you do bigger things, it requires more work, more output, and it requires more collaboration and more cooperation from the entire thing. That’s what I mean when I say it’s expanded.”

What about that Kyrie Irving-to-the-Suns rumor?

During Vogel’s introductory presser to begin June, he and Jones expressed willingness to keep Paul and Ayton despite their contracts limiting Phoenix’s cap.

News of Paul’s uncertain future dropped less than a week later.

Jones on Thursday dodged a question about retaining point guard Cam Payne as his contract guarantees Thursday. For what it’s worth, Vogel made a mention about Payne running point this coming year.

Jones sidestepped another question about whether a qualifying offer was extended to Darius Bazley, who could be a restricted free agent if that was the case.

And so Jones certainly didn’t address the biggest news of the day.

“What we do in free agency is an internal matter we always keep internal. There are plenty of great players we’ll talk to in this period,” Jones said of a report of Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving planning to meet with the Suns after free agency opens Friday.

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Bradley Beal’s intro touched on all the ancillary Suns drama