Even though the Phoenix Suns are currently filled to the brim with 15 roster spots already, they still could dip their toes back into the free agent market if they make a trade or prefer one of these options over someone else. Over the last week, though, some of these names have been thinned out even more to the point where it seems unlikely, but it’s obviously not impossible to see happen later this month.
Possible targets like Luc Mbah a Moute and Shabazz Napier took big discounts with how rough the open market has been to them, so Phoenix might be able to squeeze by using only part of their $4.49 million room exception they have left to play with. At the moment, Phoenix has $1.1 million available to spend before going above the salary cap threshold.
Here are four names that could be ideal targets for the Suns, whether it’s straight up signings or possible sign-and-trade scenarios, who could actually see playing time on this roster next season.
Rodney Hood (RFA)
After his abysmal stint in Cleveland, Hood left a negative impression on most NBA front offices after he refused to play in garbage time in the playoffs. Not only that, but he seemed to never really gel there once he had to pack his bags from Utah. It’s a legitimate question to ask where Hood fits in on most rosters right now, because many are plentiful with depth at the guard and wing positions.
However, General Manager Ryan McDonough could see this as a “second draft” opportunity for Hood. He’s only 25 years old, and has shown in the past to be one of the more viable scoring options with Utah where he averaged 13 points while shooting 36.9% on 3s over 4.5 seasons. It’s certainly a gamble, but Hood would be an upgrade at the end of the bench over Troy Daniels.
Hood would also be an intriguing fit into Igor Kokoskov’s motion system where he could be utilized in five-out looks where he bends around multiple screens to create separation on outside shots.
Cleveland already has J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman in need of minutes, so maybe signing Hood to an offer sheet where they send back Daniels make sense for both sides. Rolling the dice on Hood for $4.49 million isn’t the worst idea in the world, and he could be flipped at February’s deadline if it doesn’t end up working out.
Once Chicago rescinded Nwaba’s qualifying offer to free up space, I was immediately banging the drum for Phoenix to pounce at the chance of signing him at the room exception. Rumor has it Chicago wants to try the same thing with theirs, but Nwaba would play way more valuable minutes in the Suns’ rotation.
Unlike Hood, who’s tendencies are to be a negative on defense, Nwaba would bring much-needed versatility into the guard rotation. He wouldn’t start, but having Nwaba be interchangeable in lineups alongside Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges is certainly a tantalizing thought.
Imagine this lineup combination, too: Okobo-Nwaba-Bridges-Warren-Bender. That right there is an ideal second unit to roll out where it has the unique blend of scoring (Okobo + Warren) alongside the super-switch jumbo guard/wing (Nwaba + Bridges) and two former top 10 lottery picks who are still in the infant stages of development. It’s a high upside grab to make with Nwaba, because I’m more in on his offensive potential in the right system than most.
(By the way, playing Warren as a small-ball four next to Bender or Chriss continues to intrigue me next season, if they play on keeping him. Having him be the high usage scorer off cuts in the midrange and towards the basket with an optimally spaced floor seems like the best option for him in their current system.)
Nwaba isn’t a natural playmaker at all — only averaged 1.5 assists per 23.5 minutes for Chicago last season — but he checks a lot of boxes for temporary Booker compatibility fits. What’s needed next to Booker is someone who can not only shoot, but play above-average, aggressive defense. Nwaba fills the latter, but this also could be one of those Kokoskov specials where he transforms his perimeter shot like he did with Raul Neto and Ricky Rubio in Utah.
If Nwaba somehow became someone who defenders wouldn’t be able to sag off of, that opens up so much floor space for Booker to operate. Nwaba really is only a jumper away from becoming one of the more improved bench pieces in the entire league.
This type of move with Nwaba should be something McDonough explores before it’s too late. Immediately, he becomes one of the better defensive guards on the roster while also allowing them to keep Shaquille Harrison on another two-way contract.
It’s been apparent since his first and final season in San Antonio three years ago, but West seems to be hitting the end of his career. After he jumped ship to Golden State picking up back-to-back titles, West might be ready to call it quits if he doesn’t receive an offer before training camp rolls around in September.
West wouldn’t be able to provide much out on the floor with his lack of speed outside of pick-and-pops for 15 minutes per game, especially how fast Kokoskov wants to play, but his veteran leadership would be so valuable to help build even better chemistry in their locker room. Placing West alongside Trevor Ariza, Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley could be the right blend of mentoring veterans to help Phoenix’s young core take the next step in its ascent.
Another interesting factoid revolving around West is his close relationship with Warren. He attended the NBA Draft with Warren back in 2014, but he knew him way before then.
This blurb from Paul Coro four years ago shows the bond these two share, which goes way beyond the basketball court:
It would be really awesome to see their relationship come full circle with West finishing his career with someone like Warren. On the veteran’s minimum, having West around Warren and the rest of the young Suns might be just what the doctor ordered.
You also don’t want to test West at all. His grittiness would be another addition into an already feisty group, and you can never have enough of that.
Montrezl Harrell (RFA)
Harrell has yet to escape his current role where he’s an energy big who plays around 15-20 minutes per game, but his numbers stretched into starter minutes are eye-popping. Per 36, Harrell has career averages 19.8 points and 7.8 rebounds on 64.2% shooting. Harrell not only produced well in his role last season with the Clippers, but also before that in Houston as well.
For Harrell to work in Phoenix, though, one of Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender would have to be moved in a separate deal. I have to imagine Harrell wouldn’t want to be in a role where he’s the third center again behind Deandre Ayton and one of Chriss/Chandler.
Playing as the nonstop rim runner, Harrell has flourished. He would have the same role in Phoenix, but with Igor’s sets he could see even easier looks for himself around the basket.
If Alan Williams isn’t returning, which seems very unlikely at this point, throwing an offer sheet Harrell’s way might be a sneaky good addition into Phoenix’s frontcourt.
As you can tell by the list, the names certainly don’t pop off the page but they are signings that provide much-needed depth in spots that lack it. Extra security in case of injury, or in the case of point guard where the Knight experiment could go awry, don’t be surprised if Phoenix isn’t completely done with their roster just yet.
Which one of these free agents intrigues you most?
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