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Center of the Sun: Fans react to the Ariza signing, and what’s next for the Suns

The cash earmarked for free agency is almost gone but the Suns are still in need of a quality point guard.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Ryan McDonough didn’t waste much time when the clock struck midnight (on the east coast) and the Suns made free agent Trevor Ariza an offer that he obviously couldn’t refuse, $15 mil for a single season in the Valley.

Fan reactions to the news have been mixed but that’s pretty much par for the course for almost any news about the Suns lately. In general, everyone’s sick of losing seasons and bad basketball and they want it to end... although just how to make that happen always seems to generate some disagreements.

The Ariza signing is no different.

I see it as a good - but not great - thing.

Ariza will bring solid defense and three point shooting to a Suns team that desperately needs both. At 33 he’s not a long term answer and he’s really more of a small forward/small-ball power forward but the NBA has been moving away from the old school power forwards that bang the ball in down low and going to stretch 4s that open up the floor by hitting threes. Ariza can work in that environment.

But of course he isn’t an ideal match for the Suns but I didn’t see other options for them that were. And the one-season contract is really perfect for the future as it, combined with the expiring contracts of Tyson Chandler, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels, will drop $41,373,549 off the company books at the end of the season. Just in time for what is expected to be an even better free agent market.

But not all of those expiring contracts may still be with the Suns by then as they are still in the market for a quality point guard. A lot of names have come up to possibly fill that void but using up the bulk of the free agent budget rules out that avenue of acquiring one and the Suns will now have to attempt get a point guard through a trade. One or more of those expiring contracts could be part of the answer to making that trade happen.

Although Brandon Knight will be returning from his ACL injury this season, the Suns a rightfully not ready to pronounce him the de facto starting point guard. Rookie Elie Okobo might be the answer down the road but he’s at best a candidate for backup PG at the moment. The Suns need another option at the point.

The question now is do they go for a big trade that could bring in Kemba Walker from Charlotte or go for something smaller like attempting to trade with the Clippers for Patrick Beverley? For certain any trade for Walker would involve multiple players, the Suns very likely sending out some draft picks and the Suns taking back at least one of Charlotte’s bad contracts while Beverley (or Milos Teodosic) might be had for much less.

Although I’m anxious to see how it all works out, I think nothing will happen until after free agency moves start to wind down.

But then I was surprised that the Suns moved so quickly to sign Ariza so what do I know?


Fantable Questions of the Week

1. The Suns need to acquire veteran help at both point guard and power forward. Which of the two positions do you believe is the most important need?

2. What’s your opinion of the Trevor Ariza signing?

3. McD has basically used up the Suns’s available cap space in signing Ariza. That means that any (good) point guard that he brings in will have to be done by way of a trade. Considering the options at point guard that the Suns have at least a reasonable chance to obtain through a trade, who would be your top choice? Also, who do you think would be the one (or two) that would be the easiest (although possibly not the best) for them to actually acquire?

NOTE: Some of the Fantable members were unable to respond to question #2 before publication time. That was because it was not one of the original three questions that were asked of them before free agency began. The following is the original question I asked of them:

”Considering only the options at power forward that the Suns have at least a reasonable chance to obtain, who would be your top choice? Also, who do you think would be the one (or two) that would be the easiest (although possibly not the best) for them to actually acquire?”

I honestly did not expect the Suns to act so quickly and decisively at the beginning of free agency and the rapid acquisition Trevor Ariza made that question irrelevant. Some of the answers were also edited - by me - when references were made to acquiring point guards through free agency which cannot be done after virtually all of the Suns’ free agency budget was spent on Ariza.

GuarGuar: 1. I believe point guard is by far the most important need to fill on this team. At power forward we still have Chriss and Bender. Yes, they may not be good and still very young, but they can play well at times. Also we might go small ball with Bridges/JJ at the 4 during games too. Point guard we really don’t have anybody who is starter quality. The current situation of Knight/Okobo doesn’t seem like it will cut it. We need help at PG badly. Get someone who will complement Booker by providing 3 point shooting and defense.

2. I LOVE the Ariza signing. I’ve been calling for McDonough to do this move for months now. The Ariza signing is basically what the Sixers did with J.J. Redick last season. Overpay for 1 year to grab the vet, and have no future commitments. Ariza, Chandler, and Dudley all clear the books next year opening up $40+ million already. I’ve seen a lot of talk about a ‘logjam’, but that is absolutely false. Ariza will be our starting 4 next season. Mikal will come off the bench (and TJ too if he’s still here). I didn’t understand the hype about starting Mikal so soon. He needs to learn the game and Trevor will be a great mentor. It’s time our rookies/young guys start earning their minutes instead of just being given 30+ a night. Ariza’s “3 and D” archetype is much needed on this team and I’m really excited. Finally some floor spacing!

3. I have been and will continue to be on the KEMBAAAAAAA train! Kemba Walker would be a terrific addition and I still think we have the assets to go out and grab him (he’s only on a 1 year deal). A combination of Bucks pick, Suns first, TJ, Chriss/Bender should get it done. I don’t understand why the Hornets would continue to hold onto Kemba considering it looks like Mitch Kupchak is blowing up their roster. I really think a team of Kemba/Booker/JJ/Ariza/Ayton could be a playoff contender, even in this loaded western conference. The easiest PG option we could trade for is Milos Teodosic. The Clippers might waive him to begin with, but if they don’t it shouldn’t take much to trade for him. Patrick Beverley is another viable option who I wouldn’t mind adding.

Sun-Arc: 1. I think it’s important the team have a vet at two starting positions. And I think our needs at PF and PG are equally important. It is possible that Chandler and Dudley can supply some of this. But I feel like they are over the hill. I’m not sure at this point if they can supply enough on-court time. Chandler as a backup center should see some court time and is a leader. But how much court time will he get? Dudley… how fit is he? Are either starters at this point? I think not.

Brandon Knight may (or may not) be that vet leader at PG, but- again- I think we can get someone better at that position. I’d like to see him play, but if we can get a step up, that’d be better. Then again, saving our cap space for next year’s FA season may be a good idea as there are better choices available, especially at PG. And if Knight happens to play well, we might just be able to trade his contract next summer.

Some rules for who we pick, as far as I see them: We need to surround Ayton and Book with shooters. So, the vets need to be able to shoot the three above average. Both should be able to play reasonable D at least. At PG, I feel the vet would need to be able to defend both guard positions to help cover for Booker, which also means he’s versatile. Play-making and everything else is secondary to me because Booker, JJ, Bridges, and Ayton can also pass well.

I recently wrote a fanpost on the subject on who the Suns should target at PF and PG. My answers here are based on the stats comparison spreadsheet I created of over 20 players for these positions. You’ll see who is a RFA, UFA, or would need to be obtained in a trade. You can see that all here.

2. I have mixed feelings about the Ariza signed, but mostly positive. While I think he has always been part of winning cultures, and is a 3&D player- he is not in his prime anymore. He was still excellent last season for Houston, but I wonder how hard he’ll be working for the Suns this coming season without the possibility of contending for a title. Sure, it’s a ‘contract year’ for him- but will that be enough? I also feel it leaves the team without anyone to defend the larger PF’s in the league, such as Griffin. And… is he an on-court leader? He may be, but I’ve never heard that about him. Seems like kind of a quiet guy.

Having said all that, I love that he’s on a one-year deal. That keeps us open for next summer’s stronger FA class. His perimeter shooting numbers are quite good, as are all the stats I had in the spreadsheet. His defensive advanced stats are all good too- though HOU had a good defense in general- so difficult to know how much of that was Ariza in particular. HOU fans, though, really liked him and thought he was a really good defender-so there’s that. He’s versatile, switchy, tough, and healthy. All in all it would be difficult to find a better suited 3&D vet that is better in either 3 or D.

3. At this point I feel like TJ & Chriss (plus any necessary picks) for Walker or Dragic seems likely. Schroeder could be in the mix too, but I’d rather the other two. Chriss could be swapped for Patrick Beverly, perhaps. But TJ & MC seem like they are looking in from the outside at this point given all the other roster moves. And the one player that makes sense there is Dragic from a matching salary point of view and to release some crowdedness from their two positions.

SDKyle: 1. Overall, PG is a bigger need than PF at this point. If Knight doesn’t come back as the mature team-oriented player Suns fans are hoping for, it means we may not really have a starting quality PG on the roster. I’m less worried about the PF spot only because the Suns already have a fair amount of size.

2. I like Trevor Ariza, but man we are really loaded up on wings now. I think Ariza is versatile enough to play up to three positions, though, so it’s not a bad concept. I guess the idea is to use Ariza to get us through this season without having to rely entirely on the under-22 crowd, which is an encouraging sign for those of us who are sick of watching the losses pile up.

3. My top choice is still Kemba Walker, but I’m not really looking to debate that any further. It might be easy to obtain a DJ Augustin or a Teodosic via trade, but personally I only want to do the trade if the player is an obvious upgrade over Knight. If we’re just looking to get another fringe starter quality guy, I’d rather roll with what we have.

SouthernSun: 1. I’d say point guard is the most important need. They run the show on offense. Booker is very good for a wing at facilitating and handling the ball, but not for a point guard. There should be less “Point Book” next season if the Suns plan on winning some games. Let him play to his strengths. So point guard gets my vote.

2. I’m neither angry nor excited about the Ariza signing. I’m not extremely excited at the prospect of using this coming season as a platform to show next year’s crop of free agents that the Suns have somewhat improved, and then hoping a star who fits wants to come here next summer. But, that’s what this move means. I would have rather the Suns gone ahead and traded for a Tobias Harris, or cleared enough salary to make an offer to Aaron Gordon. But Ariza will do in a pinch. He will play the 4 (hopefully) for this next season, and then find some other team to get a longer contract from. Or maybe even stay with the Suns on a lower per year, more years deal. He provides great perimeter defense, the ability to guard small ball 4s in the paint, good three point shooting on high number of attempts, and apparently a strong work ethic and veteran leadership that will hopefully rub off on the young guys. Also, he’s basically the archetype of what Mikal Bridges hopes to become. So who better to teach him?

3. My top choice of those players reasonably attainable is Kemba Walker. I really don’t think it’s going to cost as much as some think to get him, and all the comments by Charlotte are, in my opinion, just them blowing smoke pretending they don’t want to trade him to increase his value. If they planned on giving it another shot with him this season trying to make the playoffs, they wouldn’t have traded Dwight Howard for Timofey Mozgov. Kemba is very very good offensively, can playmaker for others at at least an average point guard level, create his own offense, and shot the three well on a very healthy number of attempts last season. He would take a lot of the pressure off of Booker and the young guys offensively. Also, his defensive metrics are much more decent than you’d think. Anybody who says he’s an “awful” defender is just plain wrong. Statistically their opinion is incorrect. Also, he was just named the NBA’s Sportsmanship Award Winner for the second consecutive season, like Grant Hill back when he was still in the desert. Not much to dislike about this guy.

The deal could be:

  • Suns 2019 1st (unprotected) + Suns 2019 Second Round Pick + Marquese Chriss + TJ Warren + Jared Dudley
  • for
  • Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams

You give up a seemingly valuable pick (much less valuable if the Suns actually don’t suck next season) for someone who may be a rental, but if Kemba performs well and proves to be a good fit next to Booker, which I believe he would be, then it’s definitely worth it and you re-sign him. Yes, for a lot of money. You may not have heard, but all star point guards tend to make large sums of money nowadays. I know I know, Cap Space and Flex Ibility have been really great players for the Suns, and sure have done a lot to help put wins on the board, but I think it may be time to look for an upgrade.

Now, as for who would be the most easy to obtain, that would probably be Patrick Beverly. He could probably be bad for the MIL pick. The Clippers have no need for him this coming season. They just drafted two point guards and let Jordan walk. So obviously not competing.

While I do love Kemba, my dream would be prying Lillard away from Portland. The night of free agency beginning he sent out a cryptic tweet. Which could of course mean nothing. Maybe he’s just using young people speak to say “Goodnight everyone, it’s late.” But I’m hoping he’s heard he’s in trade talks.

But, Kemba is more likely to be had, so I’m rolling with him.

So, in my perfect (and in my opinion, reasonable) world, your Suns go into next season looking like this:

  • Kemba Walker/Elie Okobo
  • Devin Booker/Brandon Knight
  • Josh Jackson/Mikal Bridges
  • Trevor Ariza/Marvin Williams/Bender
  • Deandre Ayton/Tyson Chandler

I just... I just don’t see how anybody could be in any way unhappy with that lineup. But I’m sure some of you will be. Look! I even kept Bender! See? There he is, being terrible for the Suns still.

Alex Sylvester: 1. I feel like point guard is a much more important position to figure out at this point. The power forward position this season could be filled my a number of players currently on this roster (Bridges, Jackson, Bender, Chriss, Dudley, etc). I would like to get a vet PF on a one year deal to solidify the group, but you could argue that the position could be okay even without an addition.

2. No answer available.

3. I desperately want to see Patrick Beverley on this team next year!

One year left on his deal for cheap, a prototypical 3/D point guard, and a massive headache for opponents, Beverley is exactly what the Suns could use next year. He’s essentially an older, less commitment based, better offensive version of Marcus Smart, and for wayyyyyyy cheaper. Go get this man!

This also goes for part two of the question where I feel he’s one of the easiest starting caliber guards to acquire. Kemba would be more expensive, short term and long term. But it shouldn’t take more than a young player and a second round pick to get Pat Beverley.

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


2017-18 Season Highlights

Memphis Grizzlies vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights Dec 26, 2017 NBA Season 2017 18

Devin Booker Full Highlights 2017.12.26 vs Grizzlies - 32 Pts, 6 Asts, Fouled Out in Injury Return!

Best Plays From Crunch Time: Grizzlies vs Suns Down To The LAST Second!


Quotes of the Week

”Our main criteria was to find high character people who will bring positive energy and enthusiasm to the team day in and day out. I strongly believe that we have extraordinary teachers of the game who are capable of helping our talented team grow.” - Igor Kokoskov on his coaching staff

”I’ll always figure it out. I’m a learner. I love to learn. I love to listen. I’m going to digest as much information as I can. And that’s what I did during my rookie season.” - Josh Jackson


Interesting Suns Stuff


News & Notes

Suns Announce 2018 Summer League Roster. Suns.com

Suns once again prioritize flexibility with reported Trevor Ariza signing. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Grades: Suns Maintain Long Term Flexibility With Locker Room Addition of Trevor Ariza. Sports Illustrated

On The Rise: Josh Jackson Is Leveling Up for his Sophomore Season. Alex Wong/SLAM

Phoenix Suns Announce Coaching Staff. Suns.com

30 Teams in 30 Days: Phoenix Suns Offseason Preview. Early Bird Rights

The Ripple Effect Of The Salary Cap Increase. Hoops Rumors


Suns History in Video

Steve Nash’s Top 13 Plays on the Suns

Phoenix Suns 50 Years In 50 Seconds


Suns Trivia

The 1979-80 season was the first in which the three point shot was introduced in the NBA and on Oct. 12, 1979, Paul Westphal and Don Buse each hit two three-point shots for the Phoenix Suns during a 97-89 season-opening win over the Golden State Warriors. It was the first game in Suns history that included the three-point shot. (Author’s note: I could find no record of which player - Westphal or Buse - actually made the first three pointer in Suns history. Perhaps a long-time fan might know???)

As a team, the Suns made a total of 68 treys on 280 attempts (24.3%) that first year with only 3.9% of their total field goal attempts coming from behind the three-point arc. Last season they made 763 on 2286 attempts (33.4%) and 32.0% of their total field goal attempts were three pointers.


Previewing the Weeks (and Months) Ahead

July 6 - July moratorium ends (12:00 pm ET). Teams can begin officially signing players, extending players, and completing trades. The two-day period for matching an RFA offer sheet signed during the moratorium begins.

July 6-17 - 2018 NBA Summer League (Las Vegas)

  • July 6 - Suns vs Mavericks @ 6:30 pm AZT on ESPN
  • July 7 - Suns vs Kings @ 4:30 pm AZT on ESPN
  • July 9 - Suns vs Magic @ 6:30 pm AZT on NBA TV
  • Tournament play follows the three game schedule, opponents and game times TBD.

July 13 - Last day for teams to unilaterally withdraw qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

July 15 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned first-round picks; those players become free agents on July 16 if not tendered.

August 31 - Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2018/19 salaries.

September 5 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks; those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered.

Late September (specific dates TBA) - Training camps open.


Last Week’s Poll Results

The poll was, “How do you grade the Suns’ draft day performance?”

76.2% - A

20.6% - B

02.6% - C

00.2% - D

00.4% - E

There were a total of 583 votes cast.


This week’s poll is:

Poll

What is you opinion of the Suns’ acquisition of Trevor Ariza?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    I love it!
    (212 votes)
  • 52%
    It’s okay but it’s not what I was hoping for.
    (254 votes)
  • 4%
    I hate it!
    (21 votes)
487 votes total Vote Now