When the Hans Gruber of Suns blogging, Dave King, assigned that as my first official topic as a columnist for Bright Side of the Sun, all I could think was ‘the hell if I know?’
Let’s be honest, in the last eight years it seems like Suns fans have been thrilled for a combined 2 hours. The hour following Devin Booker’s 70 point game against the Boston Celtics before we began debating the merits of how he got those points, and the hour after the Suns won the NBA Draft Lottery before things devolved into basketball traditionalists vs. basketball hipsters taking sides between Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic.
Maybe the longest playoff drought in team history causes that or maybe it’s 50 years without a title that makes us all the basketball equivalent of Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets sitting in the balcony that is Suns Twitter passing judgement. Either way, there isn’t much that will universally thrill this fanbase but there are a few things that most won’t be able to deny are necessary.
Now that the Suns have their core four in Ayton, Booker, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges, it’s time to leave #TheTimeline in the rearview mirror and start building with the sole purpose of winning games and forming the base of the next great Suns team. With that being the guiding force behind all the decisions this offseason there are two very obvious holes the team needs to address; veteran point guard and stretch four.
One name that fits the bill is Marcus Smart. The fifth-year point guard has the toughness, savvy, court vision and defensive prowess to help the Suns win now while, at 24 years of age, he’s still young enough to grow with the roster. You may be thinking ‘but Smart can’t shoot. Why would you want him?’ and the answer is simple. With the offensive firepower the Phoenix has thanks to a draft focused on it, the team can afford to have a starter who isn’t offensively focused. His skillset is a perfect compliment to the rest of the starting lineup.
Smart not your cup of tea? The other name that could fill the void isn’t a free agent but likely could be had in a trade. After the Los Angeles Clippers confusingly drafted two guards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson, they now have a glut guys who play the position.
That makes Patrick Beverley expendable. Coming off a knee injury that kept him out last season and with only one-year worth $5.5 million left on his contract, Beverley is a low risk high reward type of acquisition. At 29 years old he has been playing professional basketball for seven seasons and is the type of hard nosed defender that the team needs as a backcourt mate to Booker. Plus, he’s more offensively inclined than Smart as he can spread the floor with his career 37.5% shooting from beyond the arc.
With Ayton prepared to do work in the paint, at power forward, McDonough and his staff are in search of someone who can connect from long range to provide spacing in new head coach Igor Kokoskov’s offense.
Unlike at point guard, the list of available power forwards is fairly robust. While the Aaron Gordon’s and Julius Randles of the world are the sexy picks, they don’t necessarily fit the Suns’ needs. Expect them to target someone like Luc Mbah a Moute. He can hit from deep but also has the ability to guard multiple positions which would make for some interesting and versatile lineups with Jackson and Bridges potentially alongside him. Veteran Ersan Ilyasova is another guy who, at least offensively, could fit the bill at power forward as well.
When it’s all said and done, the Suns should have around $15-17 million to spend in free agency to fortify the roster and plenty of assets to make trades. With the right moves for a point guard and stretch four, the team should be able to turn the corner and give even the most cynical of fans something to root for. Then again, they could always stand pat and just start Brandon Knight and Dragan Bender, but...
Suns fans didn’t pull an Andy Dufresne and spend 8 seasons climbing through the metaphorical sewer pipe that is tanking and get to the other side to recklessly spend and set the team back. It’s time to built with smart, affordable vets to help the young guys win now.
So what will thrill Suns fans this offseason? Showing a desire to win. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen it here in the desert.