Marks: Suns had ‘garbage’ defense vs. Bucks; potential Grayson Allen extension a ‘doozy’

Mar 19, 2024, 12:18 PM | Updated: 3:23 pm

It wasn’t just Dave Pasch and Hubie Brown on the ABC call being harsh on Sunday, nor lying eyes of Phoenix Suns fans who’d watched prior uninspired performances.

A 140-129 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks was especially alarming and borderline offensive for portions of a game that, by the numbers, didn’t look so bad by the box score.

“I thought Sunday’s performance outside of the All-Star game was probably one of the worst defensive performances I’ve probably seen in a long time,” ESPN analyst Bobby Marks told Bickley & Marotta when he joined Arizona Sports on Tuesday.

“I thought it was, to be frank, garbage.”

Phoenix shot 59% by the end of the game but allowed Milwaukee to hit 54% itself. Bucks big man Bobby Portis entered the game and quickly went on a heater, finishing with 31 points on 20 shots by the end of the afternoon.

The Suns’ efforts included blown coverages, a lack of help and poor transition matchup communication, especially as the Bucks separated by as many as 25 points in the second quarter.

Milwaukee set a season-high with 82 points in the first half and 24 made threes by the end of the game.

“Listen, this Phoenix team can score with any team in the NBA and they can beat any NBA team on any given day,” Marks said. “I think that’s why you’re going to wait and see what happens in the playoffs here. But if you’re going to play like that on Sunday in the play-in if you’re there or the first round against Denver or Oklahoma City or Minnesota … you’re not going to have a chance at all.”

Grayson Allen contract extension could be a ‘doozy’

Grayson Allen, the NBA’s leading three-point shooter, is eligible for a four-year contract extension totaling $75 million beginning on March 27 and through June 30.

Performance-wise, it would be a no-brainer for Phoenix to sign Allen to a deal starting at $16.4 million a year. For the player, that’s good value, too.

The twist here is the Suns with their salary figures will be owing at least $65 million additionally in taxes next season alone. Again, that’s just for re-signing Allen.

“It’s a doozy. It’s a doozy,” Marks said. “You’re basically paying Grayson Allen $90 million next year with the luxury tax implications.”

Eating that cash gives Phoenix more flexibility in trades that wouldn’t exist otherwise. The Suns can only sign outside free agents to minimum deals and cannot aggregate salaries, so Allen could be dealt for salaries just below his yearly figure.

“What are your options?” Marks said. “You’ve already gone all-in.”

Isaiah Thomas signing about insurance

Phoenix’s reported addition of point guard Isaiah Thomas on a 10-day contract is a nice story. He’s long been pushing to make an return after last playing in an NBA game in 2021-22.

Functionally for the Suns, it gives them a pace-generator and shooter. Thomas could ultimately win the final roster spot, but Marks was quick to remind that he was on the market for a reason.

“What can he bring? If you’re Phoenix, can you see him cracking your top-eight, top-nine when you get into playoffs? He can give you some scoring off the bench,” Marks said.

“Defense, what you’re looking for, is probably not there. It’s more of an insurance policy down the backstretch if you have to rest some of your players, if you’re in a position where you’re comfortable where your seeding is. … I would be surprised if he’s even in a rotation when the playoffs start. It is a good insurance policy … and it is a good story for Isaiah Thomas to get back into this league.”

Thomas could latch on to an open roster spot, although two-way guard Saben Lee is also another in-house option to take that spot.

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Marks: Suns had ‘garbage’ defense vs. Bucks; potential Grayson Allen extension a ‘doozy’