DAN BICKLEY

Bickley: Mat Ishbia, Phoenix Suns strike gold once more at NBA trade deadline

Feb 8, 2024, 2:13 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2024, 9:31 am

Bad owners are like icebergs. They’re cold, they move at a glacial pace and they have the uncanny ability to sink ships.

Championships, to be exact.

That is no longer our reality in Arizona.

Thanks to the billionaire basketball junkie running our NBA franchise, the Suns did more than add fringe depth at the NBA trade deadline. They overhauled most of their bench. They shipped out four players, adding 1-2 rotational pieces, and serving notice to the rest of the NBA:

Thanks to owner Mat Ishbia, they will leave no penny unspent in pursuit of a championship.

The addition of Royce O’Neale is the jewel of Thursday’s reformation. He is a no-nonsense, unselfish, hard-nosed defender who can guard wings and power forwards. He was Kevin Durant’s teammate in Brooklyn, where he was described as the ultimate “glue guy.”

Meanwhile, David Roddy is a burly tank of an athlete, potentially giving the Suns enhanced rebounding, toughness and youthful upside. And the team also cleared out two roster spots for the buyout market, giving the Suns even more flexibility.

Granted, basketball experts were saying the same glowing things about the players the Suns imported last summer, including the four players they just sent packing: Chimezie Metu, Jordan Goodwin, Keita Bates-Diop, and Yuta Watanabe. Forbes even celebrated the occasion with the following headline in Aug. 2023:

“How the Suns Nailed their Offseason by Signing Yuta Watanabe.”

It didn’t work, but that’s exactly the point. After the Suns reported for training camp in October, Ishbia proclaimed, “I think we’ve got the best team in the league.” And after 51 regular season games, he wasn’t going to wait to be proven right or wrong. And on the one-year anniversary of a blockbuster trade for Durant, Ishbia and his team struck again.

Swapping out a large swath of the bench in February is not a common practice for teams with title dreams, but Thursday’s maneuverings clearly pump more oxygen into the room. Most Valley basketball fans were unconvinced the Suns were a championship contender in their previous form. On some nights, they looked the part and flashed the pedigree. On other nights, they seemed highly flawed and vulnerable.

Some of their struggles are understandable. Torrential turnovers and fourth-quarter meltdowns occur when you don’t have a point guard to steady, facilitate and organize. But their bench was unreliable and wafer thin, and collectively, the team had recurring issues of edge, tenacity and disposition.

Now, assimilation begins again. There are more new faces to integrate on the basketball court in Phoenix. But the Suns lost nothing they needed to win that elusive title, and in a best-case scenario, they snagged a slice of something they were sorely missing.

The alternative was crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, a dicey proposition at best. Thankfully, our new owner seems incapable of standing still or standing pat.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta mornings from 6-10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

Dan Bickley

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: March Madness nears but the Phoenix Suns are more of a March Mystery as they enter the home stretch

College basketball has March Madness, but Dan Bickley explains how the Phoenix Suns are more of the NBA's March Mystery heading into the final home stretch of the regular season.

14 hours ago

President John Mara of the New York Giants speaks with President Michael Bidwill of the Arizona Car...

Dan Bickley

The 2024 NFLPA report card grades don’t disappoint

The NFL Players Association released their annual report cards for each of the league's franchises this week and the grades don't disappoint.

21 hours ago

The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate winning Game Seven of the Championship Series against the Philad...

Dan Bickley

Diamondbacks’ young guns ready to apply invaluable postseason experience

For a young and blossoming team like the Diamondbacks, the value of a second-place finish can be impossible to quantify.

2 days ago

Presented By...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Is the Kyler Murray love for real?

In this edition of the Bickley Blast, Dan Bickley reflects back on the history with the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Kyler Murray, and if the latest social media love from the team to Murray is genuine. Bickley & Marotta also talk about Phase 2 with the Cardinals, and what they need to do to have success in the 2024 NFL Draft.

3 days ago

Kyler Murray celebrates with Monti Ossenfort postgame...

Dan Bickley

Pressure’s on 3 Arizona Cardinals as renovation enters new phase

Renovation of the Arizona Cardinals has entered Phase Two. It's time for Monti Ossenfort, Michael Bidwill and Kyler Murray to step up.

4 days ago

Presented By...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Bickley Blast: Is Kyler Murray’s future set with the Arizona Cardinals?

With reports of the Arizona Cardinals doing their homework on several quarterbacks coming out in the 2024 NFL Draft, Dan Bickley wonders what the future holds for Kyler Murray in the Desert.

4 days ago

Bickley: Mat Ishbia, Phoenix Suns strike gold once more at NBA trade deadline