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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns 17-29 after a 1-1 week

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The Suns have a busy 4 game schedule this week.

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Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

@ Portland Trail Blazers L (118-111) Full Recap

@ Denver Nuggets W (108-100) Full Recap


It’s encouraging that the Suns got another win on the road in Denver last week even though they were again playing short-handed. Thankfully, T.J. Warren returned for that one to give the offense that reliable second punch it needs beside Devin Booker... especially when the Suns have several players out.

As much as the Suns need better defense (they’re ranked 28th for the season), they also still need more reliable scorers. Getting both would be great but a significant improvement in either area would be helpful in adding a few more Ws.

Sorry, tank fans, but I want to see my team win. Even though they are on pace to win 30 games this season (yes, I know the rest of the schedule is very difficult and they might not get to 30 wins), with a few changes they might be able to do even better. No, I’m not advocating for the Suns to start chasing that 8th seed but if there’s a player available to trade for that could help the Suns now and in the future, they shouldn’t pass up the opportunity.

There are 17 days left until the trade deadline and there are some interesting trade possibilities out there. If the price is right, a move now might be the best thing.

And the Suns should definitely be players in the free agent market this summer and perhaps pursue a trade or two as well. With a few of the right pieces in place around Devin Booker - whether they come through trades, free agency or the draft - the Suns most definitely should be looking at taking the steps necessary to build a team that at least could be able to compete for the 8th seed next season.

So which players should the Suns be looking at and when should they be making their plays to get them?

That’s basically what I asked the Fantable this week.


Fantable Questions of the Week

1. What non “superstar” player would you most want the Suns to go out and try to trade for? Would you have them do it now, at the deadline, or this summer?

2. What free agent(s) are you hoping the Suns make a play for this summer?

GuarGuar: 1) I wouldn’t consider Kemba Walker a “superstar” so I’ll go with him especially since the Hornets have put him on the trading block. In a perfect world, we would be able to wait until the summer to acquire him so our pick remains relatively good. I’ve seen a lot of people say Kemba wouldn’t be much different from when we had Eric Bledsoe and I disagree. Kemba can shoot the 3 (unlike Bled), is great in Pick and Roll, and is a better playmaker. Kemba isn’t a “good” defender, but he isn’t a liability due to his quickness. He also brings energy every night unlike Bledsoe who would coast whenever we were down big or had a lead. Kemba would be a great partner next to Book and alleviate pressure off our 21 year old superstar. The most I would consider giving up for him is Monroe, the Miami first, and a 2nd round pick. That might be even too much considering he’s a 1 year rental.

2) Clint Capela is probably the popular Suns fan choice of who to go after this summer and I agree with it for the most part. I’m not sure I could stomach us maxing Capela but we need to get this team moving and he would be a massive upgrade at Center. His defensive presence and rim running ability would be fantastic. I can see Booker running the PnR with Capela just as well as Harden is doing this year. I’ll throw a bonus name out there and that’s Avery Bradley. This would only be if we are committed to Point Booker though as Bradley can’t run an offense. But AB would cover Booker defensively and also be a reliable 3 point threat on offense. This team needs shooters badly.

Sun-Arc: I’m going to attempt to be realistic about this. Which is difficult, because often actual trades and free agent acquisitions come from out of the blue- or at least end up differently than the way one might expect. Especially with McDonough - for better or worse.

I don’t see a lot of point of going after a SG, because: Booker.

Similarly, I don’t see the point of going after a SF until we know what we have in JJ. And I’m assuming we keep the wing duo of Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren.

I’m not going to dream about PF’s because there are few really good ones out there that fit us right now. Some are pinning after Aaron Gordon, and that would be a trade target I’d be fine with for the right price. But let’s concentrate on our biggest areas of need: PG and C.

1a. Trades for C’s: The two good players that aren’t all stars I would most like to target are Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela. The problem is neither team is likely to trade them in-season or possibly at all.

I’m not sure what is going on in Utah, but their cap situation is not horrid and with Donovan Mitchell there to form the offense next to Rudy, I have a hard time picturing what we could give to Utah for a trade for him.

No way Houston trades Capela in-season.

A dark horse center might be Steven Adams from OKC if they want to shed salary to keep their big three together. They currently have the 3rd highest payroll and just gave Russell Westbrook a big extension. Monroe + Chriss + two FRPs? Probably, or assuredly, dreaming.

Another dark horse would be Hassan Whiteside. Miami may also want to shed salary. More likely available than Adams, but still unlikely. And I’m not as high on him as some others.

1b. Trades for PG’s: I wrote in a fan-post <link> recently about four PGs we might want to trade for. Out of that bunch, it came down to Kemba Walker and Spencer Dinwiddie. The latter would cost less but is more of a gamble. Another possibility is to make a bigger splash and attempt to pry Russell away from the Nets. That might take a lot of assets, but could also be worth it. I don’t like the fit next to Booker on defense, but maybe not that much worse than the other two. My dream would be John Wall, but he IS an all-star and won’t be available.

2a: FA centers: I’m all in on Clint Capela at this point. Let Greg Monroe and Alex Len walk and move forward with Capela, Alan Williams, and see if you can trade Tyson Chandler.

2b: FA PG’s: Ugh. Unless we could somehow swing Chris Paul being here, I’m not really excited about what is out there. I don’t want Thomas back, as good as he’s been. I just think that is a bad move to bring someone disgruntled back. But let’s say we were able to trade for Gobert/Adams or pick up Capela in FA. Could we possibly talk CP3 into playing here alongside Booker? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

SDKyle: 1. At this point the non-starbplayer I most want the Suns to make a trade play for is Kemba Walker. Walker is nothing remarkable in this era of superstar guards, and on balance is probably in the same tier as the departed Eric Bledsoe...but he’s good.

He’s a capable if not spectacular playmaker, and I really don’t think he’d have a problem deferring to Booker as the Suns’ top scoring option. As a solid perimeter shooter (35% from 3pt range on 7 attempts per game this season) Walker would prevent Booker from facing double teams outside. When Booker is not on the floor, or is having a bad night, Walker could comfortably assume the alpha scorer role.

Reportedly, Charlotte is insisting on unloading a bad contract to part with Walker, but I think it’s worth exploring. Adding Walker now would be bad news for tank enthusiasts, but could easily set the table for an exciting and competitive 2018/2019 Suns squad.

2. Is there a good basketball reason to NOT go hard for DeMarcus Cousins? At the risk of sounding a bit worshipful, the Suns need a long-term answer at the starting 5 and Cousins is practically the perfect modern center. He is athletic enough to run the floor in a fast-paced offense, and skilled enough to help facilitate as a slick passer who is none to shabby handling the rock. He can score effectively from every zone, and although not a dominant defender is a solid one. I don’t know exactly what style of offense the Suns will be running beyond this year because I don’t know the coach will be, but assuming some kind of uptempo game predicated on floor spacing and ball movement, Cousins fits the bill.

Many fans doubt he’d consider the Suns, and many others have decided he’s a headcase who would ruin team chemistry or resent Booker’s role as the face of the franchise. Those concerns aside, I want the Suns to try. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?

SouthernSun: There are several “non superstar” players I would like the Suns to attempt to acquire. My first choice is Aaron Gordon, but I realize it’s certainly not the most likely scenario. My second choice would be Kemba Walker, as this team badly needs a point guard, and his team has (per Woj) told other teams to make offers. This is the most realistic trade candidate for us, and so I’ll focus on him.

The fact that they are openly asking for offers, and that they are intent on moving him along with unwanted salary (one of Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, or Dwight Howard) tells me two things. One, they want to move him sooner rather than later because they plan on tanking the rest of the season for a better draft pick. Two, he may actually be available for something along the lines of what I suggested recently.

Charlotte will be moving Kemba before the trade deadline. He will not be available this summer. He will be on another team by then. There are basically no point guards of any note available in free agency this summer. If the Suns want to be something resembling a competitive team next season, they will need to make a move for a veteran point guard soon, because whatever rookie they draft will almost certainly not be able to step in day 1 and be a viable starter.

My suggestion would be this:

  • Suns send: Brandon Knight, Alan Williams, Miami 2018 1st, MIL 1st
  • Hornets send: Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams

Hornets want to save money. Alan Williams contract is unguaranteed for next year, so that saves them 6 million. Taking Williams from them saves them 13 million next year. Knight and Kemba have about the same type of contract, but Knight has 1 more year on his. Knight is younger than Kemba, and could presumably give them, in a new situation, a portion of what Kemba gives them, but he is out for the rest of the year, so he wont hurt their tanking efforts.

The real assets of this trade for the Hornets are the two mid-late 1sts, and financial relief by saving them 19 million. Suns can add a 2nd if necessary (or even Tyler Ulis. I really don’t care about Ulis).

The Suns get their point guard who they can roll with for the foreseeable future, though he probably won’t push them out of the top 10 of the draft this year, so the Suns still end up with a decent pick (Sexton preferably).

Then in free agency, if the Rockets show interest in wooing LeBron James, the Suns go ahead and offer Clint Capela something that hopefully the Rockets won’t want to match, and Suns get their center of the future.

Suns go into the following season like this:

  • Kemba/Sexton/Ulis
  • Booker/Daniels/Reed
  • Warren/Jackson
  • M. Williams/Chriss (or vice versa)
  • Capela/Bender

That team would probably be a 7th or 8th seed in 2018/19, and has tons of upside with lots of room to grow.

This would make me extremely happy.

Many thanks to our Fantable, GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun for all their input and especially SouthernSun for suggesting the Fantable questions this week!


Key Stats

You all know that the Suns are just a bad defensive team right now but from the table above you can see that they at least seem to be making some progress in preventing opponents from scoring at will in the paint. Any progress is good but they still need to work on their three point defense.

Weekly Book Report

I usually try to find something other than reporting Devin Booker’s stats in this section of the Center of the Sun because most of the time I’d just be repeating things that you’ve already read in other BSotS articles. But I thought a recap of his weekly stats might still be interesting. Here they are for the past week.

2 games, 37.9 mpg, 36.5 ppg, 6.5 apg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 spg, 1.0 bpg, 3.5 TO, 1.5 PF, 3PT% = 39.1, eFG% = 56.73, TS% = 62.76

Random Stats: Tyson Chandler has a career field goal percentage of 59.4%, third-highest in NBA history among those with at least 2,000 makes. With 35 career 30-point games, Devin Booker ranks 10th in Suns history with No. 9 Shawn Marion (37) the next to pass. Troy Daniels has made a three-pointer off the bench in 26 straight games since Nov. 26, tied for the longest such streak in Suns history, matching Wesley Person in 26 straight from Jan. 7-April 8, 1997.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com.


Game Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers Full Game Highlights / Jan 16 / 2017-18 NBA Season

Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets - Full Game Highlights | Jan 19, 2018


Quotes of the Week


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 21.9 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.7 TO, 2.7 PF

  • This week - 18.4 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.0 TO, 3.5 PF, 25.0 3PT%

Davon Reed - 4.8 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 1.0 PF

  • This week - 2 DNP-CD

Alec Peters - 11.4 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.3 TO, 0.3 PF

  • This week - 2 DNP-CD

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


News & Notes

Suns rookie Josh Jackson continues strong play with second unit. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker finds a real home on the road. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Kerr expresses ‘regret,’ shoulders blame for how things ended with D’Antoni, Suns. Yahoo! Sports

2017-18 Midseason Report Card: Phoenix Suns. NBA.com

Suns need to heavily consider trading for Kemba Walker, just not yet. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

NBA: Underperformers and overachievers for Week 14. Hoops Habit


This Week in Suns History

On January 22, 1968, the NBA Board of Governors granted franchises to the cities of Milwaukee and Phoenix.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

In their first 49 years, four Suns players have won the NBA Sixth Man award. 1989 Eddie Johnson (1989), 1998 Danny Manning (1998), Rodney Rogers (2000) and Leandro Barbosa (2007).

Suns Ring of Honor member Cotton Fitzsimmons was the head coach of the Suns three times. First from 1970 to 1972, then from 1988 to 1992 and finally in 1996. Fitzsimmons won the 1988-89 NBA Coach of the Year award as the Suns’ head coach. He also won that award in 1979 as the head coach of the Kansas City Kings. He is one of only eight head coaches in NBA history to have won the award more than once.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, January 22 - Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks, 6:00 pm AZ time

Wednesday, January 24 - Phoenix Suns @ Indiana Pacers, 5:00 pm AZ time

Friday, January 26 - Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks, 7:00 pm AZ time

Sunday, January 28 - Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets, 1:30 pm AZ time

After two weeks with only a couple of games each week, the Suns get back to the regular NBA grind with a four game week. The good news is that there are no back to back games this week. The bad news is that 3 of the 4 are on the road and all four are against teams that the Suns have already played and been beaten by.

First is a rematch with the Bucks in Milwaukee on Monday night. The Suns lost that first game 113-107 in OT after an exciting buzzer beater by Booker at the end of regulation. Giannis Antetokounmpo did not play in that game and may be out with a sore knee for this one as well. The Bucks haven’t played well lately and at this moment are just barely hanging on to the 8th spot in the East by 1 game. I think that the Suns get their revenge and win this one.

On Wednesday, the Suns head to Indiana for their second game with the Pacers. The Pacers did their best to spoil Bright Side Night in their previous meeting with the Suns by handing them a 120-97 loss. I don’t think that the score will as lopsided as the last game but I think that the Pacers will win again to sweep their two-game series with the Suns this season.

Friday night the Suns come home for their second game with the Knicks. The Knicks won that game 120-107 after jumping out to a quick 32-19 first quarter lead. The Suns played them dead even for the rest of the game which was no recipe for overcoming an early 13 point lead. I think that the Suns can flip the script at home and get a win in this one.

And finally the Suns head to Houston for an early afternoon game on Sunday. This will be the Suns’ third meeting with the Rockets and I don’t see the outcome of this one being any different than the other two - both losses.

I’m optimistically predicting that the Suns go 2-2 this week.

What’s your prediction?


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “Which of this season’s Western Conference “cellar dwellers” will make it back to the playoffs first?”

The results were:

48% - Phoenix Suns

32% - Los Angeles Lakers

02% - Sacramento Kings

08% - Dallas Mavericks

10% - Memphis Grizzlies

There were a total of 218 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

If he’s available, should the Suns trade for Kemba Walker before the trade deadline?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Yes!
    (55 votes)
  • 20%
    No!
    (41 votes)
  • 51%
    Only if the price is fairly low.
    (103 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now