After a tumultuous few weeks that have seen Phoenix drop down the standings with frustrations getting the best of them, management spoke up.
In an interview with AZCentral’s Scott Bordow Saturday, general manager Ryan McDonough elaborated on why the Suns plan to be more aggressive this summer now that Devin Booker and T.J. Warren have taken crucial developmental jumps alongside Josh Jackson’s latest emergence, too.
“There are certain core pieces that are starting to solidify,” McDonough said to Bordow. “I think we’d be foolish or naïve to wait forever or be overly patient. We’ve been, I think, relatively disciplined with contracts we’ve given out in terms of length and dollars, but yeah, we’re planning on being one of five of six teams with a decent amount of cap space, and we’ll see if we can improve the team.”
Talk within Phoenix has always been about the summer of 2019 being the Suns’ point of attack for free agency — Tyson Chandler, Jared Dudley, and Troy Daniels would all be off their books — but this doesn’t come as a surprise to me. This summer was still going to see them explore every avenue (draft, trades, free agency) with McDonough’s assets saved up.
Whether it's restricted free agents that fit their core like Clint Capela, Marcus Smart or Doug McDermott they could be had on cheaper deals compared to most summers. As the current outlook around the league shows, many are trying to shed cap space. Phoenix is one of six teams with significant money to play with in July.
All are good signs for a team in desperate need of adding more NBA-ready talent. This roster is stocked up with young prospects, but where are the proven commodities outside of Booker, Warren, and veterans?
June and July will be critical for McDonough, as it sets up for him making his all-in move finally. Alongside their own pick, which now is looking very likely to convey in the top five, they own Miami’s unprotected ones this year and in 2021. Both will be valuable chips moving forward whether it’s used in a trade for a star or move up in said loaded draft if need be.
With McDonough letting it be known on record, it sets them up to make moves here soon. That time is finally approaching for Phoenix’s GM who has been on the job since 2013.
In his interview with Bordow, McDonough, like VP of Basketball Operations James Jones told us in our exclusive interview on Bright Side Night, mentioned point guard and center as areas that need to be upgraded.
Below, here are the top point guards and centers likely to be available.
PG: Isaiah Thomas, Smart, Rajon Rondo, Dante Exum, Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton
C: DeMarcus Cousins (likely to opt-in), DeAndre Jordan (could opt-back-in), Capela, Brook Lopez, Nerlens Noel, Jusuf Nurkic
Earlier this month, I wrote in further detail on how McDonough and the rest of the Suns’ front office can build a title contender around Booker by 2020, which includes my free agent targets.
Alongside a season that looks destined towards another top-five pick at this point, Phoenix will need to supply their young core with proven talent to help them take further steps forward.
It is now time for the Phoenix Suns and their front office to build a legitimate contender over the next few years, which relies heavily on what occurs this summer via the draft, trades, and now more aggressive free agency tactics too.