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Center of the Sun: 19-55 Phoenix Suns losing streak back up to 11

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It doesn’t look good for them to break that streak any time soon.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

vs Detroit Pistons L (115-88) Full Recap

@ Cleveland Cavaliers L (120-95) Full Recap

@ Orlando Magic L (105-99) Full Recap

While I thought that this year’s team wasn’t going to be very good, I must admit that I really didn’t think that they would be this bad. But there were warning signs even before the season started. Brandon Knight, Alan Williams and Davon Reed all out with knee injuries. Marquese Chriss’ alarming sub-par performance (and appearance) during Summer League. Earl Watson being our head coach.

Who could have known just how badly this team would play in their first three games? Or that Earl Watson would be fired so quickly? Or that Eric Bledsoe would also be sent on his way so soon? Almost no one really counted on Bledsoe being part of the future of this team but did anyone really think that he would become a part of it’s past so quickly?

Everyone was expecting Josh Jackson to play like he is playing today right out of the box but that didn’t happen. Marquese Chriss was still not in game shape when the season started. Dragan Bender still seemed to lack confidence and aggressiveness.

I could go on and on but there’s really no use in rehashing it all.

This team needs an extreme makeover. Little tweaks and twerks to the offense/defense, the roster and the coaching staff aren’t going to cut it... unless the plan is to continue losing at an historic rate again next season.

Everyone has an opinion as to how to move this franchise forward and last week I asked the Fantable to put on their GM hats and come up with their some ideas of their own. Last week, each of them chose a new head coach and used their top draft pick to select a player.

The Fantable questions this week are a continuation of what we started back then with this statement: “For these questions, first we’re going to pretend that I am Robert Sarver. Before the team is even out of the showers following their final game, I fire Ryan McDonough and name YOU as the new GM shortly afterward.”

In the scenario I laid out, the Suns also had the worst of luck and fell all the way to 5th in the draft order following the lottery. Last week everyone hired a new head coach for the Suns and selected their first first player from the draft at #5. The selections that each Fantable member made are included with this week’s answers.


Fantable Questions of the Week

1. Let’s settle the issue of the 15th & 16th picks for good. If you want to use them, select 3-4 players that you would like to draft at those positions and we’ll work out who you could actually get later. If you want to try to use them to trade up, give me one specific trade proposal (I’ll add a poll with your proposal asking people to vote on whether they think that the other team would make that deal or not).

2. What are you going to do regarding Elfrid Payton (RFA) and Alex Len (UFA)?

3. Name your top free agent target (or targets if there’s more than one you would want to go after) or who would be your #1 trade target. There’s no need to work out the specifics of the trade you want to make now. We’ll save that for next week. For free agents, give the maximum amount that you would offer plus the number of years in the contract.

Editor’s note to readers: There are several polls in the following that ask about potential trades. These polls are asking if you think that the OTHER team(s) will accept those trades, NOT whether you approve of them. Please answer accordingly.

GuarGuar: Head Coach - Monty Williams, Draft pick (at #5) - Trae Young

Due to an error in communication on my part, GuarGuar was unable to provide an answer to question #1 before publication time. - RA

2) I’m totally done with Alex Len. I don’t want him back and I don’t think he wants to come back. We need to move on as a franchise from his stone hands and accept he was a failed pick. Big Sauce is our backup center of the future. It doesn’t matter to me at this point if we could sign Len to a very team friendly deal. It’s time to cut ties. Elfrid Payton is interesting. Ask me this question a month ago, I probably say resign him as long as it isn’t for a crazy price. He’s really struggled these last couple weeks and looks really disengaged and lethargic. I’m fine bringing Elf back as the backup PG for a couple years. He clearly has talent and would be one of the top backup point guards in the league. The ideal price range would be 6-7 million a year. The best option for us though may be to have him take the qualifying offer and just play out next year. It depends how active we plan to be in free agency/trades this offseason.

Due to an error in communication on my part, GuarGuar was unable to provide an answer to question #3 before publication time. - RA

Sun-Arc: Head Coach - Stephen Silas, Draft pick (at #5) - Marvin Bagley III

1. Robert Williams, Jontay Porter, Daniel Gafford, or… Dzanan Musa (draft and stash)?

Trade idea: Picks 15, 16, and 32 (if necessary) to Charlotte for #10

Poll

Do you think Charlotte would make this trade?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Yes
    (90 votes)
  • 34%
    No
    (48 votes)
138 votes total Vote Now

The idea is Charlotte wants to multiply their chances of getting something good out of this draft and they don’t think there is a lot of difference in talent between the 10th pick and 15/16th. The Suns do it only if there is someone there at 10 they love that won’t last till 15 - such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

2. I would drop every cap hold I have, including Payton’s, in order to see what I can get in free agency. If necessary I would drop every non-guaranteed contract as well. If Payton and Len get a job somewhere else while I’m looking, fine. If not, and depending on what I got in the draft and FA, I would offer them low-paying backup jobs on the team each worth about $5-6m/year for three seasons- but only the first year guaranteed. Obviously that would only be if better replacements could not be found.

3. Top FA targets (I’m not great at guessing realistic salaries, so take with a grain of salt):

  • Clint Capela; $24m/year, 4 years
  • Paul George: $27m/year, 4 years
  • Aaron Gordon: $15m/year, 4 years (I’m not as high on him as some)
  • Milos Teodosic: $12m/year, 4 years- only first two years fully guaranteed
  • Derrick Favors: $14m/year, 2 years
  • Nikola Mirotic: $15m/year, 4 years- only first two fully guaranteed
  • Tyreke Evans (desperation move for a stop-gap starter PG if necessary): $9m/year, 3 years- only the first fully guaranteed

With the FA’s the goal is to bring in a couple of high-end vets to go along with young prospects (FA & draft). Shoot for the moon with Capela and George - offer more if necessary on them. The others are lower tier for me. But if we could get Capela, Teodosic, and draft Bagley - that’d be a good haul.

SDKyle: Head Coach - David Fizdale, Draft pick (at #5) - Jaren Jackson Jr.

1. I’d offer Charlotte the 15/16 picks. T.J. Warren, and Tyler Ulis for Kemba Walker.

I’m aware that some people are thinking that the Hornets are married to Walker and wouldn’t sell him for less than a king’s ransom, but I don’t think this is a bad deal for them. They get a SF who can score in volume, a guy who might yet find his way as a backup point and two solid picks to kick off this rebuild in style.

Poll

Do you think Charlotte would make this trade?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes
    (51 votes)
  • 56%
    No
    (66 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now

And I don’t want to hear about how the Suns can’t trade Ulis because of Booker. This is business.

2. I’m fine with just letting both Payton and Len walk. Neither is going to be all that meaningful a contributor going forward in my mind. Len is a fine backup big, but we already have that covered.

3. I’d max Aaron Gordon. He’s a star who is arriving now and he’d be a massive addition to the Suns.

SouthernSun: Head Coach - David Fizdale, Draft pick (at #5) - Marvin Bagley III

I am never going to be for selecting more than one rookie this summer.

I would use the 15 and 16 picks to trade for Kemba Walker.

Suns send:

Tyson Chandler, Jared Dudley, Tyler Ulis, 2018 15th pick, 2018 16th pick

Charlotte sends: Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams

Poll

Do you think Charlotte would make this trade?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Yes
    (33 votes)
  • 66%
    No
    (66 votes)
99 votes total Vote Now

At this point, I’m getting rid of both Payton and Len. Neither are worth their cap holds.

My top free agency targets in no particular order are:

  • Aaron Gordon (4 year max)
  • Julius Randle (4 years, 56 million)
  • Derrick Favors (4 years, 40 million)
  • Doug McDermott (4 years, 28 million)
  • Kentavius Caldwell-Pope (3 years, 30 million)
  • Avery Bradley (3 years, 36 million)
  • Clint Capela (4 years, 72 million)

Obviously the Suns can’t afford anywhere close to all these guys, but really whatever they can get.

Alex Sylvester: Head Coach - David Fizdale, Draft pick (at #5) - Michael Porter Jr

1) Here would be the two picks I’d make if I were the GM and base the draft off of Tankathon.com (as of 3/23/2018)

15: Collin Sexton, Alabama

I’ve read a good amount on the boards lately about the love on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. A 6’6”, 180 lbs guard from Kentucky, Shai certainly has the physical tools to be a gifted NBA point guard. He might be a more intriguing prospect for Phoenix, but considering the way the draft played out (on Tankathon, grabbed DeAndre Ayton #1 overall), Sexton seems to be the next best choice. Sexton has a lot of heart in him, and I wouldn’t bet against him being a quality NBA player. Is he the future at the PG position, as well as a good fit next to Booker? Can’t be certain of that. But Sexton has a lot of upside himself, and I would love this pick at 15.

16: Anfernee Simons, Edgewater HS

The youngest player in the draft, Simons checks the box on a major need that the Phoenix Suns need: Shooting. Simons is a career 44% three-point shooter at the HS level and has drawn comparisons to Trae Young of late. Simons realistically would not be able to contribute for a couple of seasons, but he could be a major pickup with the right development/role down the road.

If I were to trade up with both picks, here is my proposal:

-Phoenix: #15/16 overall

-New York: #9 overall

Poll

Do you think New York would make this trade?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Yes
    (40 votes)
  • 62%
    No
    (66 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now

Phoenix picks: Mikal Bridges, Villanova

2) In terms of need, I still have interest in bringing back Elfrid Payton. Len? He’s had years to prove his worth and was unable to, so I wish him the best with his next team. I don’t imagine Payton getting any real money on the restricted FA market, so do your best to sign him as cheap as possible. Worst case, you let Elfrid walk and rely on Brandon Knight/draft/FA to replace his services.

Due to an error in communication on my part, Alex Sylvester was unable to provide an answer to question #3 before publication time. - RA

Many thanks to our Fantable, GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and newest member Alex Sylvester for all their input!


Key Stats

OffRtg - 89.2

That was the Suns’ offensive rating last week. For the season their OffRtg is 100.7... which was already last in the league. They also have the worst defensive rating for the season but it strangely only dropped from 110.8 to 110.9 last week. Obviously the Suns’ offense suffers when Booker and Warren are out but that didn’t seem to significantly affect the defense.

Weekly Book Report

3 DNP-Injured

Random Stats: Devin Booker has missed 20 games due to injury this season. The Suns are 3-17 (.150) for those games. They are 16-38 (.296) for the games in which Booker played.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


Game Highlights

Detroit Pistons vs Phoenix Suns - Highlights | March 20, 2018 | 2017-18 NBA Season

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights / March 23 / 2017-18 NBA Season

Phoenix Suns vs Orlando Magic - Highlights | March 24, 2018 | 2017-18 NBA Season


Quote of the Week

”I’m doing a better job of staying in control and picking and choosing my shots. I’m a lot more comfortable. I actually feel like I see the floor a lot better.” - Josh Jackson


Rookie Report

Josh Jackson - 24.6 mpg, 12.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.8 TO, 2.8 PF, 25.9 3PT%

  • This week - 34.9 mpg, 16.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.3 TO, 4.0 PF, 00.0 3PT%

Davon Reed - 10.5 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.4 TO, 0.7 PF, 31.8 3PT%

  • This week - 15.2 mpg, 1.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.0 TO, 0.7 PF, 16.7 3PT%

Alec Peters - 8.5 mpg, 2.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.1 TO, 0.2 PF, 19.4 3PT%

  • This week - 12.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF, 25.0 3PT%, 2 DNP-CD

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.


News & Notes

Suns Recall Alan Williams from Northern Arizona. Suns.com

NAZ Suns cap season with OT victory over Sioux Falls (Alan Williams records double-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds). Brian M. Bergner Jr./The Daily Courier

Suns begin search for head coach; interim Jay Triano a candidate. Adrian Wojnarowski/ESPN

All goes well in return to the hardwood for ‘Big Sauce’ Alan Williams. Brian M. Bergner Jr./The Daily Courier

Phoenix Suns’ Josh Jackson shows fiery intensity - at chess match, too. Scott Bordow/AZCentral Sports

Suns GM: ‘It probably is unlikely’ Tyson Chandler plays rest of season. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Suns Coach Jay Triano Bringing Hockey to the Court. Suns.com

Is Elfrid Payton squandering his ‘tryout’ with the Suns? Vince Marotta/Arizona Sports

Silver Linings Playbook for Eliminated Teams. The Ringer


This Week in Suns History

On March 29, 1970, the Suns upset the Lakers 114-101 in Los Angeles for the franchise’s first-ever playoff victory.


Suns History in Video


Suns Trivia

While most of the records set by the Suns this season are of the type they would rather not have, they still have the longest streak in NBA history for having made at least one three-point shot in every game. The streak now stands at 1,132 straight games and began on March 29, 2004.


Previewing the Week Ahead

Monday, March 26 - Phoenix Suns vs Boston Celtics, 7:00 pm AZ time

Wednesday, March 28 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Clippers, 7:00 pm AZ time

Friday, March 30 - Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets, 5:00 pm AZ time

Sunday, April 1 - Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors, 5:30 pm AZ time

We’re down to just eight games left in the season and the Suns will play four of them this week. And a brutal week it looks to be as the Suns first face the Celtics and the Clippers at home before hitting the road to play the Rockets and Warriors.

Needless to say, I don’t see a single winnable game for the Suns this week. Boston, Houston and Golden State are three of the top four teams in the NBA. Although the Clippers aren’t nearly as good as the other teams the Suns will face this week, they still have a winning record and an outside shot at making the playoffs which places them well above the Suns in the NBA pecking order.

The Suns’ position in the reverse standings is virtually in no danger because of a possible win. My prediction of the Suns going 0-4 this week is probably one of the safest bets I’ve ever made.

What’s your prediction?


TankWatch 2018

The Suns still hold on to their tenuous lead in the reverse standings. Memphis is still in second place due only to the fact that they have one less loss than the Suns (both teams have 19 wins). If neither team wins another game before the end of this season, they will tie for the worst record and 1st in the reverse standings.

In case of a tie, the lottery balls would be split equally between the two teams with a coin flip determining which team would be #1 and get the extra combination. Normally the #1 team would have a 25.0% chance of winning the #1 pick and the #2 team would have a 19.9% chance. If a tie occurs, the team winning the coin flip would have a 22.5% chance of getting the 1st pick and the #2 team would have a 22.4% chance.

Atlanta (#3) now has 2 more wins than both the Suns and the Grizzlies but one less than Orlando and Dallas who are tied for 4th. It’s doubtful that there will be much change in the 3rd through 9th positions in the reverse standings between now and the end of the season. The final order for 10 through 14 is still very much up in the air as the Lakers, Hornets and Pistons are all separated by only one half game for the the 10-12 spots. The Clippers seem to be in a kind of no-mans-land at 13 as they are really to far behind in wins to make up enough ground to challenge for the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs but also have too few losses to make up any ground in the reverse standings. Denver has the 14th spot at the moment but they are only 1.5 games behind Utah and Minnesota who are presently tied for the 7th/8th seeds. One of those three teams will get the 14th spot in the lottery but it’s too close to tell which one will get it just yet. Denver presently has the 2nd toughest schedule (the Suns have the most difficult again) remaining, Utah has the 5th most difficult and Minnesota has the easiest remaining schedule (30th) in the NBA.

None of the top 9 teams in the reverse standing have more than 9 games left to play.

Important Reverse Standings Game Schedule

Monday, March 26: New York @ Charlotte, Memphis @ Minnesota, Boston @ Phoenix

Tuesday, March 27: Chicago @ Houston, Dallas @ Sacramento

Wednesday, March 28: Brooklyn @ Orlando, New York @ Philadelphia, Portland @ Memphis, Atlanta @ Minnesota, LA Clippers @ Phoenix, Dallas @ LA Lakers

Thursday, March 29: Chicago @ Miami, Indiana @ Sacramento

Friday, March 30: Chicago @ Orlando, Philadelphia @ Atlanta, Phoenix @ Houston, Minnesota @ Dallas, Memphis @ Utah

Saturday, March 31: Detroit @ New York, Brooklyn @ Miami, Golden State @ Sacramento

Sunday, April 1: Washington @ Chicago, Orlando @ Atlanta, Detroit @ Brooklyn, Dallas @ Cleveland, Phoenix @ Golden State, Memphis @ Portland, Sacramento @ LA Lakers

There are four tank battle games this week (highlighted by bold print). The results of those games will create larger shifts in the reverse standings than the other games.


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “If the Suns do drop to 5th in the draft lottery, who would you select at #5?”

09.5% - Trae Young

45.0% - Marvin Bagley III

27.0% - Jaren Jackson Jr

14.5% - Michael Porter Jr

04% - Other

There were a total of 319 votes cast.


This week’s poll is..

Poll

Do you think that the Suns will win any of their final 8 games?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Yes
    (47 votes)
  • 22%
    No
    (33 votes)
  • 45%
    I hope not... we need all the lottery ping-pong balls we can get.
    (66 votes)
146 votes total Vote Now