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Center of the Sun: Phoenix Suns win one of four this week and slip to 18-36

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Will the Suns make any significant moves before the trade deadline?

Charlotte Hornets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

@ Memphis Grizzlies L (120-109) Full Recap

vs Dallas Mavericks W (102-88) Full Recap

vs Utah Jazz L (129-87) Full Recap

vs Charlotte Hornets L (115-110) Full Recap

This week was a bad week in more ways than just the win/loss column. Devin Booker has been playing hurt with the sore ribs he got in the Houston game and then went down in the Charlotte game with a hip pointer, Alex Len has been out often with a nagging ankle injury and of course there was the devastating broken ankle that Isaiah Canaan suffered in the Dallas game.

The Suns just cannot seem to get healthy this season. Notice that I said ‘get’ instead of ‘stay’ healthy. That’s because the team has been plagued with injuries - both serious and minor - since before the season began. Brandon Knight will miss the entire season. Alan Williams has missed the entire season so far but might be back at the end of the month. Davon Reed has just recently returned after missing the beginning of the season. Jared Dudley and Tyler Ulis started off the season not fully back in prime condition due to offseason injury rehabilitation. Devin Booker missed several weeks. Isaiah Canaan is now out for the rest of the season. And all of that doesn’t include the relatively minor nicks and dings that have sidelined other players for a few games here and there.

This has been a “snake bit” season for the Suns in many ways (only non-Suns fans would need me to list everything else that has gone wrong this season so I won’t bother rehashing all of that here). The injuries have only been the half of it.

In many ways the Suns have been a patchwork team all season without much continuity in many areas. That isn’t a recipe for success, especially for a very young team like the Suns. And now the trade deadline is quickly approaching which may bring even more changes to a team that has already seen more than it’s fair share this year.

What will Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough do between now and February 8th? What should he do?

I asked the Fantable a question this week regarding what the Suns might do before the trade deadline and why the buyout of Greg Monroe’s contract may have come so soon.


Fantable Questions of the Week

1. Following the tragic injury to Isaiah Canaan, the Suns made a quick move to shore up the PG position by signing Josh Gray to a 10-day contract. Perhaps they will wind up keeping Gray for the rest of the season or will wind up signing more 10-day contract players but they have to do something as rolling with just Booker and Ulis at PG isn’t a good idea. So, do you think the Suns will try for a big acquisition before the trade deadline or just put a band-aid on the problem for the rest of the season?

2. Greg Monroe’s buyout wasn’t a surprise but the timing was. My first thought on this was that the Suns might have done it to open up a roster spot for a possible trade that would bring back more players than go out. Why do you think that they did it when they did instead of waiting until after the trade deadline?

GuarGuar: 1) First off, I want to say I hope Isaiah has a speedy recovery. That was such a gruesome injury I can only imagine what was going through his mind. IC was a great addition for us this season and I liked him 100 times better than Mike James. Now regarding the question, I think the signing of Josh Gray to a 10-day is basically how this point guard situation will be handled for the rest of the season. We all know how Ryan McDonough loves to call up G leaguers when we are engaged in a tanking process. It might turn out we sign Gray for the rest of the season if he plays well. Or, prepare for multiple 10-day signings for a bunch of different players. I can’t see McDonough trading for a temporary fix it guy considering he wants to lose, lose, lose.

2) I think they let Monroe go simply because they tried hard to negotiate a positive trade for us, but there were no takers. And because there wasn’t a deal on the table that would really benefit us, we decided to cut ties now. Maybe the reason was opening up an extra player spot for a trade, but I doubt it given McDonough’s history. Moose was an incredible tank commander though, going 1-15 in his last 16 games he played for us. His defense was extremely awful, and he took up so much offensive usage when he played. I do respect Moose though for being a professional this entire time and handling the situation very nicely. I wish him the best in Boston.

Sun-Arc: 1) I figured the Suns would have to do something after Canaan’s injury. But Gray’s 10-day deal is nothing more than a stop-gap. Here’s what I’ve noticed about Ryan’s decision making: He does everything he can to keep flexibility. He may be working on a trade to bring a more permanent PG here and in the meantime, it makes sense to bring up a 10-day contract player to see what that player might bring. If he outplays Tyler Ulis, as Canaan did, he may keep him on the team for the rest of the season even if a more permanent player is brought in. That is, unless we have too many players on the roster after a trade.

Either way, it’s a fairly reasonable move, if boring and predictable: Check out a G league player with the regular team and stall for time. With days left before the deadline, Gray’s deal runs out just afterwards, at which point Ryan can make the call to drop or keep him.

2) Monroe’s buyout was also about keeping options open. We didn’t lose out on his expiring deal by doing this and we didn’t use his contract to bring on another team’s dead-weight, the latter of which would have limited our ability to play in the free agency. They gave Monroe a chance to show his worth with five games in a row of playing time. Then bought him out before the trade deadline, giving Monroe more time for signing with someone. So, maybe, just maybe, Ryan was really thinking about doing something good for a player? Is it possible? Well, he’ll now get a chance to play for a title with the Celtics.

A target for trade/FA PG I would like to see is Tyreke Evans, as I mentioned in a recent fanpost. Turns out Adam Maynes of Valley of the Suns agrees with my fanpost (for better or worse as he’s hit or miss).

The report is that Memphis is keeping Evans out of games until he’s traded. He’s played in only one of their last five games, which was against… guess who!… the Suns. Tryouts, perhaps? Reports are also that Memphis wants a first round pick in return for Tyreke. We have a lot of those. The issue is that Evans is a UFA, not a RFA. So it could be throwing away a pick to trade for him. But I still think it could be worth it to start wooing him early.

The trade might involve Len for Tyreke’s $3.2m expiring, unless Len uses his no-trade clause. If he does, the next likely trade would probably need to involve Bender but only if the FO would rather have Deyonta Davis instead of Bender. Bender + future pick for Evans and Davis if they liked him enough (he’s got some impressive stats, including a near 19 PER). Or maybe there is a way to just trade a pick and cash for Evans.

SDKyle: 1. At this point, I’m guessing band-aid. It would be great if the Suns were prepared to make a major offer for a legitimate starting-quality point guard, but my guess is that McD has embraced the tank once again. We’ve got Josh Gray for now, and I expect we’ll see a couple of other Josh Grays before the season is over. I’m not thrilled about that, but I’m sure a lot of people will say that it makes no sense to try to upgrade the PG spot now.

2. To be honest, I don’t know. I think it was probably a combination of Rod’s hypothesis about roster space and Monroe becoming increasingly annoyed at being here. Would anyone be surprised? We know from at least one public comment that Monroe was frustrated with his situation in Phoenix. Maybe he was bitching up a storm behind the scenes, and McD finally just said “you know what? Fine. I’ll just waive you right now.”

The way the Suns FO operates has mystified me for at least three years, and I don’t feel all that qualified to interpret McD’s thought process. Is anyone on the panel secretly a psychiatrist?

SouthernSun: 1) The Suns have slapped a band-aid on their point guard problem. And it’s a wet, used one, without much adhesive left on it. They pulled it out of the trash can known as the G League. Very Suns. Very Will McDonough’s son. They will not be making a move for a decent point guard, no matter how much myself or any other Suns fan (and probably Suns players...) want them to.

At least Gray is a feel good story. He apparently got on the NAZ Suns by trying out, and ended up turning his $150 tryout cost into an actual NBA contract when he was called up by the Suns in the wake of Canaan’s horrific and unfortunate injury. Good for Gray. Bad for the Suns. This team now has multiple G Leaguers playing for it. Which is fitting, since 90% of the time they look like a G League team trying to play against actual NBA competition.

2) Greg Monroe being bought out doesn’t signal much to me. Like Rod, I initially thought it might signal the Suns clearing a roster spot for a move they planned on making at the deadline, perhaps one that would actually bring a talented basketball player to Phoenix who wasn’t in high school two years ago, but then I remembered who the Suns general manager is, and how important it is to him that the team be as horrendous and unwatchable as possible for the remainder of the season. That’s when I came to my senses.

I don’t expect anything to happen at the trade deadline that makes me happy. I expect Daniels to be traded to whatever team makes the best offer, hopefully a late 1st from a contender, probably a 2nd rounder, because production is apparently bad unless you’re 19.

There’s a chance Chandler gets traded, but then we just have an oft injured Len at center and Bender to occasionally play the 5, so I actually kind of doubt Chandler gets traded. Dudley might be traded, but again, I doubt it. He and Chandler are probably the two people keeping things like Chriss’ recent conflict with an assistant coach from being a much more regular occurrence.

No... other than the Daniels trade, unless McDonough surprises the crap out of me and decides to trade one of his precious extra late 1st rounders for Marcus Smart to test him out for the rest of the season, I don’t expect much of anything fun to happen for Suns fans before the deadline passes.

Get ready for a quiet deadline, and then brace yourselves for one of the most miserable second halves of a season in Phoenix Suns history. It’s going to be really really bad. Thank Jesus for Josh Jackson.

Many thanks once again to our Fantable, GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle and SouthernSun for all their input!


Key Stats

21.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.3 spg, 51.6% FG, 41.2% 3PT, 86.7% FT, 57.3% eFG, 61.2 TS%

Those are Josh Jackson’s numbers for the past four games. You all have seen his progress since the single DNP-CD he received way back when and he was the Suns’ leading scorer this week. He got off to a slow start in his rookie season but it seems that he’s making up for lost time now.

Weekly Book Report

3 games, 32.0 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 6.3 apg, 3.7 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.3 bpg, 3.7 TO, 3.7 PF, 3PT% = 31.6

Not a great week for Devin but you have to give him credit for trying to play through the pain of those bruised ribs.

Random Stats: Devin Booker has made 60 consecutive free throw attempts dating back to Jan. 7, a new Suns’ single-season record. T.J. Warren is one of six NBA players to rank in the top 30 in both points per game and field goal percentage (the other five are Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kevin Durant). Troy Daniels made a three-pointer in 29 straight games when coming off the bench from Nov. 26 to Jan. 31, the longest such streak in Suns history.

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


Game Highlights

Phoenix Suns vs Memphis Grizzlies - Full Game Highlights | January 29, 2018 | 2017-18 NBA Season

Dallas Mavericks vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / Jan 31 / 2017-18 NBA Season

Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz - Full Game Highlights | February 2, 2018

Phoenix Suns vs Charlotte Hornets Full Game Highlights / Feb 4 / 2017-18 NBA Season


Quote of the Week

”I’m thankful for all of it because it’s taught me a lot. It’s helped me be stronger. You go through what I did and then an injury like this, and you see basketball taken away from you for a full year, things like (being benched) become very trivial. That’s why I say I’m thankful for the things that have happened to me. The injury changed my perspective. It’s given me a refreshing energy. It’s made me a better person and hopefully a better player and a better teammate.” - Brandon Knight


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 22.4 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.7 TO, 2.7 PF

  • This week - 28.2 mpg, 21.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.8 bpg, 3.0 TO, 2.3 PF, 41.2 3PT%

Davon Reed - 5.9 mpg, 1.0 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.3 TO, 0.3 PF

  • This week - 6.5 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 TO, 0.0 PF, 2 DNP-CD

Alec Peters - 9.8 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.3 bpg, 0.1 TO, 0.3 PF

  • This week - 6.1 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 3 DNP-CD

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


News & Notes

Suns’ Marquese Chriss to miss Sunday’s game after ‘verbal altercation’ with assistant. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Phoenix Suns’ Josh Gray parlays $150 workout-registration fee into his NBA dream. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Suns’ Jared Dudley embracing the role of player-coach. Zach Pekale/Arizona Sports

Phoenix Suns’ Brandon Knight still believes he can be an asset. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Dragan Bender’s battle with aggression continues in second year for Suns. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Devin Booker isn’t an All-Star, but it’s amazing he’s already this close. Mike Schmitz/ESPN


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

Devin Booker (2016, 2018) joins Dan Majerle (1993, 1995) as the only Suns to participate multiple times in the Three-Point Contest. In addition to Booker and Majerle, Jeff Hornacek (1992), Quentin Richardson (2005), Joe Johnson (2005), Steve Nash (2008) and Channing Frye (2010) have participated. Richardson is the only Suns player to win the event, taking the title in 2005. Current Suns Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones won the Three-Point Contest as a member of the Miami Heat in 2011.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, February 6 - Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers, 8:30 pm AZ time

Wednesday, February 7 - Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 pm AZ time

Saturday, February 10 - Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets, 7:00 pm AZ time

Just three games this week for the Suns with one on the road followed by two home games.

On Tuesday, the Suns travel to LaLa land to take on the Lakers. The Lakers aren’t much better than the Suns this season and may still be without Lonzo Ball but I’m going to call this one another loss for the Suns. I’m hoping for a win but I won’t predict one.

On Wednesday the Suns come home to play the Spurs on the back side of a back-to-back. San Antonio hasn’t seemed to be quite the powerhouse they once were lately and have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games but they will be coming into this game after a three day rest. That doesn’t bode well for the Suns’ chances although I wouldn’t have predicted a win even if the Suns were the team getting three days rest and the Spurs were on the second night of a back-to-back.

And finally the Suns will face the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night in Phoenix. Thankfully, the Suns get two days off before this one and Denver will be the team playing the second game of a back-to-back on the road. They play Houston (in Houston) the night before and I think that the Suns might be able to steal a win from what will probably be a very weary Nuggets team. This game also takes place two days after the trade deadline so who knows whether either team will feature the same lineups when game time rolls around.

It may sound overly optimistic but I’m predicting that the Suns go 1-2 this week.

What’s your prediction?


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “Should the Suns seriously consider making Devin Booker their long-term point guard?”

The results were:

07% - Yes.

69% - No.

24% - I want to see him play point more before deciding.

There were a total of 206 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

With 3 days left before the trade deadline, what do you think the Suns will do?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Make a big trade.
    (21 votes)
  • 42%
    Make a small trade/trades.
    (85 votes)
  • 47%
    Make no trade/trades.
    (94 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now