Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Brandon Knight seemed to drop under the radar of most Suns fans not long after the All-Star break as the Suns went with the youth movement to end the season but we can't just forget about him. He takes up a good chunk of the Suns' team salary as we move forward and the superb play of Tyler Ulis moved him even farther down the point guard depth chart. He not only failed as a sixth man microwave scorer off the bench last season but was also statistically one of the worst players in the NBA. He was a good soldier, he never complained about his role and was often seen cheering on the rest of the team from the bench. But, other than who do the Suns take in the draft this year, what do the Suns do with Brandon Knight is probably the biggest question for this team... which is the first of three questions that I've asked of our Fantable this week.
1. Brandon Knight... do the Suns bite the bullet and trade him away as quickly as possible for whatever they can get in return or hang on to him and hope he can rebuild some trade value before the trade deadline next season? And what is reasonable to expect to get in return for him if he's traded during the off-season?
GuarGuar: It truly is a shame the Brandon Knight scenario played out like it this season. There was so much hope going into it he could be a legit 6th man of the year candidate. Boy did that hope come crashing down. I want Brandon Knight gone ASAP. He was so bad this season that we won't get anything valuable back for him. It has even gone to the point where we probably have to package him with a pick just to get him out of here. Most likely we pair him with a future pick in exchange for another bad contract, but probably a forward or big man so it doesn't create more of a guard logjam.
Sun-Arc: I think Knight is a much better and more capable player than what he has shown in his time with the Suns. At the same time, the team has shown ZERO ability to get good play out of Brandon in his time here either. I have no faith that a different season together will do either the team nor Knight any good. Trade him, and do it as quickly as possible. In the draft if that is at all possible. I've seen some good trade ideas from other commenters such as Knight and one of our 2nd round picks to Philly for Covington and their 2nd round pick. I'm not a trade expert, so I'm not even sure if that works with the rules- but the idea would be to offload Knight while checking out another young prospect on a low or expiring contract. If we could get Okafor, all the better (maybe)- but that might be asking too much. And I'm not a fan of Jahlil.
SDKyle: I'm not a big believer in dumping a player just for the sake of it. Knight isn't causing locker room problems as far as I know, and it's not as if his value is going to go lower. Based on what few reports we got leading up to the trade deadline, it seems like we'd be lucky to get more than a second-round draft pick for Knight, and at that kind of price I think it makes more sense to just stand pat a little longer.
Justin: There is a myriad of words that can describe situation that has played out between Brandon Knight and the Suns over the past couple seasons – awkward and frustrating are two that immediately come to mind. While it has not escalated to the point of being toxic, it is only a matter of time before it gets to that point. For that reason, if the Suns can get anything in return for Knight this offseason, they need to take it and move on.
The relationship started moving toward toxicity when the Suns shut down Eric Bledsoe and Knight basically refused to play. Frankly, I don’t blame Knight and, in fact, I think he deserves credit for going as long as he did without becoming a malcontent. The relationship is clearly heading in the wrong direction, so he needs to be moved.
Rebuilding his value is a pipe dream because (1) I don’t see the Suns giving him the playing time necessary to do so; and (2) even if they gave him the playing time, I am not confident that he would actually rebuild his value. The best case scenario for trading him is to get a 2nd round pick in return, but the Suns will have to send some cash to the team taking him on – if they find one.
Paul: Yes. YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES! I would hope that McD has learned from the Keef experience and looks to move him before he becomes a problem. From all indications, Knight is a professional, much more so than Keef ever was, but at a point, if he isn’t getting playing time,his pride is going to kick in and he will become difficult. The Suns need to move him before that occurs. The problem is, Knight works best on a team where the offense revolves around him, however, he isn’t Russell Westbrook or Allen Iverson. He isn’t good enough to be that for a contending team. I could see him fitting in and possibly even succeeding on a team like Orlando or the Kings. If either of those teams strike out on a PG in this draft this year, and neither is going to be a free agent destination, they could get desperate and look to take a chance on Knight. His contract only has 3 years left, so it’s not as huge a risk anymore. Hopefully McD is the type of negotiator that he can move him. I honestly don’t care what for, he just needs to be moved. I just hope the Suns don’t have to take back a worse contract in return.
2. Are there players other than Knight that you think the Suns should try to trade during the offseason? Who and why?
GuarGuar: This may not sit well with many Suns fans (including myself) but I think Eric Bledsoe needs to be traded regardless of who we draft. I love Bled and he had a truly fantastic year this past season, but his trade value is so high right now it makes it hard to keep him around long term. By the time Booker, Chriss, Bender, Ulis, (insert draft pick) all develop and start becoming really good (hopefully), Bledsoe will be at least 30 (with bad knees). His contract expires in 2 years and I think looking at the big picture it is better to get great value for him now rather then letting him run out his contract in Phoenix on a young developing team that is no where near making a deep playoff run. It is a tough decision because Bled is an allstar and it is really hard to just trade those away. I think if we kept Eric and drafted a Tatum or somebody we definitely have a shot of getting close to 40 wins this coming season. It's just in the long term keeping Bledsoe may hurt us significantly.
Sun-Arc: I'm happy keeping everyone else unless the draft (and any trades we make on draft night) changes the situation. People seem to want Chandler gone, but I really like him as a player and mentor. He was a leader of rebounds per game in the league and seems to want to instill a winning culture. I like Dudz for the same reason. I would not trade Bled at this point no matter whom we draft. Fox or Ntikilina should back up Bled at first until we know how they can handle a starting job, if we take a PG. Yes, I know that hurts Ulis but I stick with Bled at least until the trade deadline. And, yes, I know that's kind of cold, but I have a feeling they'd be able to trade Bled (or Chandler) to a team that he'd be happy with.
SDKyle: This question is a bit hard to answer pre-draft, but Dudley and Chandler both seem like candidates that COULD go. I think we should explore the options for Dudley, particularly if we draft a forward as many are speculating we will with Jackson or Isaac. But really, I'm fine if we stay low key in the trade department as I somewhat expect we will.
Justin: As things stand, there is not anyone else on the roster who the Suns should try to trade. That, of course, may change depending on how the draft plays out. I expect the Suns to take a wing, which should mean either Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum. If the Suns land one of those guys, then I am comfortable with the roster moving forward. If the Suns go point guard instead, then Bledsoe obviously has to be traded. However, I do not see things playing out that way.
Paul: As I’ve said in previous Fantables, a lot of it comes down to the draft. If the Suns draft Jackson, I could see Warren being moved. He could get a decent return in the right situation. Or if the Suns go point guard, it might be time to move on from Bledsoe. He is really the only player on the team who doesn’t fit the timeline. The older guys, Dudley, Barbosa and Chandler, know their role, and know that they won’t be around when the Suns get back to being a good team. Other than those two, who both come with caveats, I’m not really looking for the Suns to trade anyone right now. I like all of the young guys the team has and want to see what they can become, and the older guys all play really important roles in moving the team forward until the young guys grow into the roles.
3. Alan Williams has proven to be a very solid backup center this season and has become a fan favorite in Phoenix. It seems like a "no-brainer" to bring him back next season but if he gets offers from other teams, how much would be too much for the Suns to match and keep him?
GuarGuar: I may be getting way ahead of myself but I envision Big Sauce being to the Suns what Udonis Haslem was/is to the Heat. The fan favorite that grits and grinds despite poor measurables and displays great hustle and energy. He always puts the team needs before his and contributes to winning basketball. I would try and do everything to bring back Alan Williams but there is a price where we just can't match. I think that number is 13-14 million a year. I don't think anybody offers him this much especially do to the small sample size of games he played this year (although with Brooklyn you never know). I just really hope we can keep Sauce in Phoenix as he became one of our favorite players this season.
Sun-Arc: I'd hope to keep him for $5-7m/year. I'd go a bit higher, but not as much as $10m/year. I think that's my cut off point for Alan.
SDKyle: I like Big Sauce, but he's a 15-20 per game backup big unless we end up tanking hardcore again. He's a local guy and it would be nice to keep him around, but I think the Suns should need to keep his annual salary firmly in the seven-figure range. I don't foresee it being a huge issue, but if some other team really wants to offer Williams $12 million a year or something I say they're welcome to him. He earned that fan favorite status, but he's just not dynamic enough to where you'd say "We need to keep this guy, he's not replaceable."
Justin: I think Alan Williams will get a two to three-year deal in the range of $6 million to $8 million per year. If that’s where it falls, then pay the man. But, even if he gets offered a little bit more by another team, I still think it is worth it for the Suns to match because they currently have some flexibility. They are well under the cap and have a number of guys still on their rookie deals. So, they have a few years before they need to open the checkbook to pay their core players. A three-year deal for Williams will not negatively impact the Suns’ ability to keep the young guys together long-term.
Paul: I can’t see going into eight figures ($10 million plus) for Alan Williams. Williams has significant limitations, but fills the role of the backup center perfectly. Whereas I can see Len getting a larger offer because he still has upside and he may get paid off of that. I can’t see Big Sauce being much more than he is. He would fit in perfectly as a backup center behind Chandler while the Suns grow and possibly groom Chriss or Bender, to become the future starter. Or they wait until another center comes on the market they can get in free agency. Williams can back up pretty much anyone, and provides exactly what you want from a bench player – energy and hustle. If he ends up getting a deal in the $10-$12 million range, it’s going to be really tough to justify keeping him around for that figure. Those dollars are going to be needed elsewhere in the next few years.
I really want to thank GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, Justin and Paul for taking time out of their lives to contribute to the Bright Side Fantable. They are a great bunch of guys who also happen to be passionate Suns fans.
2016-17 Season Highlights
Suns vs Spurs (January 14) in Mexico City - Full Highlights.
T.J. Warren scores a career high of 30 points against OKC
Quote of the Week
“I think we’re one of the first teams that our rival teams call if they think about moving their star player. We’ve had some of those conversations around the trade deadline, we didn’t feel like the timing was right or maybe the price was too expensive at that point. But we’ll certainly look to revisit that.” - Ryan McDonough (Sports360AZ)
News & Notes
4th pick suits Suns needs just fine. Fanrag Sports
Sun Rises On Phoenix’ Youthful Core. 16 Wins A Ring
McDonough: Suns Have Options With Fourth Pick. Sports360AZ
POLL: Most Suns fans think the NBA's lottery system is rigged. ABC15 Arizona
NBA mock draft: Doug Haller's second edition. Doug Haller/AZCentral
#NBArank: The top 10 NBA uniforms of all time. ESPN
The Suns finished this season ranked 6th in the NBA in steals (8.21 per game) and rebounds (45.0 per game). They also finished the season ranked 2nd in free throw atempts 26.3 per game, the team’s highest average since 2008-09 (27.5).
The Suns also ranked in the NBA’s top five in all four miscellaneous points categories, ranking 2nd with an average of 19.4 fast break points, 5th in with 47.5 points in the paint, 3rd with 14.9 second chance points and 4th with 17.7 points off turnovers.
This week in Suns History
May 23, 2010 WCF (Suns vs Lakers) Stoudemire scores 42 points
On May 25, 1993 Charles Barkley, acquired by the Phoenix Suns in June of 1992, won the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player. Barkley, who helped lead the Phoenix Suns to a franchise and NBA-best 62-20 record during the 1992-93 season, averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 76 games.
Previewing the Weeks/Months Ahead
Draft date, June 22nd.
Summer League play, July 1st - 17th.
Free Agency begins July 1st.
Last Week's Poll Results
The question was, "Should opinions of Lonzo Ball's "outspoken" father play any part in whether the Suns (or other teams) draft him?" The results were:
57% - Yes
43% - No
There were a total of 166 votes cast.
This week's poll is about whether the lottery is "rigged". I don't think it is but it seems that a lot of Suns fans disagree with me.
Is the NBA lottery rigged?
This poll is closed