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Tick tock: When Suns finally decide to get a point guard, there will be some new options on the market

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From Tyus Jones to Milos Teodosic, there are several players who could be available already this season.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Jimmy Butler trade is complete, we may finally see some movement around the league, including a deal to finally get the Suns their point guard.

After 12 games, the Suns have the league’s worst offense despite having three very efficient offensive players in shooting guard Devin Booker, forward T.J. Warren and center Deandre Ayton. But they can’t pass the ball to themselves, and everyone else needs to be spoon-fed to score.

Here’s how I see the Suns’ realistic options at that spot, starting with the fallout from Butler’s move to Philadelphia:

Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves

In my opinion, Jones remains the very best option in terms of value and long-term growth. It’s hard to catch a glimpse of #TheTimeline in the fog of a decimated front office and 10 losses in 12 games, but this is still a team that should have the future in mind. At just 22, Jones already looks like the kind of aggressive defender and shooter who would fit nicely alongside Devin Booker.

The fourth-year guard shot 39.3 percent on catch-and-shoot threes last season on a 48-win Timberwolves team. At times, his low-usage, efficient style looked like the best fit with the other starters in Minnesota. He would have to do a little more in Phoenix, but his aggressive on-ball defense (he’s created a steal on 3.1 percent of possessions in the NBA, an incredible rate) and knockdown shooting would boost the Suns’ point guard rotation in an instant.

The Suns average the most passes per game in the league by a wide margin, a testament to coach Igor Kokoskov’s loyalty to ball and player movement to create good shots. The problem is guys like Isaiah Canaan, Elie Okobo and Josh Jackson haven’t made open shots or created for teammates like they were expected to in the preseason. Jones, however, shot nearly 63 percent in the restricted area last season, and has the size to make opponents pay for giving him open shots at the rim.

In October, ESPN’s Zach Lowe predicted a Jones-to-Phoenix deal, and once Jeff Teague -- who has missed six straight games with a bruised knee -- returns, Jones could become available to continue cleaning house. Minnesota may not want to give Jones an extension next summer after doing the same for Towns and Wiggins already.

T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers

McConnell is another solid spot-up shooter whose youth (he’s still just 26) would make him a good fit in Phoenix long-term. He has made 37 percent of his catch-and-shoot looks the past two full seasons and has fallen out of the rotation this year in favor of rookie Landry Shamet.

Carrying a minuscule minimum cap hold next summer, McConnell could have value as a depth piece next summer as they likely max out Jimmy Butler and look for shooting. Yet Shamet looks to be a better shooting option already, and between Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, point guard isn’t a need for the Sixers.

On top of all that, McConnell is of course an Arizona alumnus who could appeal to fellow Wildcat Robert Sarver, the Suns’ owner. If Phoenix could offer an appealing package including one of their own second-round picks, perhaps that would appeal to the Sixers as they try to maintain a package of assets to continue improving their team.

Now let’s move on to other targets around the league, some of whom have changed since the summer:

D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets

Check out this breakdown on the Nets’ backcourt by Michael Scotto on The Athletic for details on the situation, which basically amounts to this: Dinwiddie has been a key factor in Brooklyn’s success this year, even closing games, and he’s eligible for an extension on Dec. 8.

All of this means Russell, who Brooklyn did not draft themselves but merely took on at the cost of eating Timofey Mosgov’s salary in the summer of 2017, could be the odd man out. He has posted a career-best .484 effective field goal percentage this season, though that’s hardly saying much for a largely inefficient player. Russell has, however, continued to play-make at a high level since he joined the Nets, and this season is turning the ball over at a career-low rate.

Plus, we all know Russell is close with Booker, a factor that likely wouldn’t be lost to the front office in negotiations. Already under James Jones, we saw with the Jamal Crawford signing and Tyson Chandler waiver how interpersonal relationships have taken on increased significance. If that extends to the Suns’ superstar, Russell could be a real target.

Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics

There’s nothing new to be said that hasn’t already been talked about at length on the Phoenix airwaves. Rozier has been connected with the Suns for nearly all of 2018 at this point.

But let it be said that Rozier’s assist percentage has fallen off a cliff, and he’s had trouble finding his spots as the Celtics struggle to acclimate to their newly deep squad on offense. Forty-one percent of his shots have come from midrange, which is a huge number for point guards and a no-no for anyone outside of Booker in the Suns’ offense.

While these troubling numbers could make Rozier more expendable from Boston’s point of view, it also means the Suns have to think twice about assuming Rozier’s incredible postseason was the new normal for him.

Milos Teodosic, Los Angeles Clippers

While Teodosic would be the last guy called upon to fix the Suns’ defensive woes (remember they’re 27th in points allowed per 100 possessions), he’s on the outside of Los Angeles’ rotation looking in at the moment.

The Serbian wizard took two DNP-CDs in the Clippers’ last two games, ceding minutes to rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (elevated on Thursday to the starting lineup), Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams. With all three of those guys playing 30 or more minutes, there’s nowhere for Teodosic to play.

Teodosic has struggled mightily with turnovers in limited minutes this year, but his role would be simplified under Kokoskov. The 30-year-old rookie last year shot 44 percent off the catch, quietly the best number of anyone linked to the Suns. He’s a bigger body than Canaan and could help the Suns’ league-worst offense enough to make them more competitive by way of simply outscoring the competition more often, turning every game into a track meet.


And that’s it. Due to team success, injuries or rotation changes, others previously linked to the Suns like Cory Joseph, Kemba Walker, Goran Dragic and Jeff Teague appear off the table for now, though as we saw with Butler himself, things can change quickly. Finally, I just don’t see the Suns stomaching a trade for John Wall and his nearly $200 million until next summer, no matter how desperate things look night to night -- not with better, more affordable options like these still on the table.

Poll

Which point guard do you want?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Tyus Jones
    (389 votes)
  • 18%
    Terry Rozier
    (268 votes)
  • 6%
    Milos Teodosic
    (89 votes)
  • 30%
    De’Angelo Russell
    (438 votes)
  • 13%
    T.J. McConnell
    (191 votes)
  • 4%
    Stick with Canaan/Okobo/Melton
    (64 votes)
1439 votes total Vote Now