This is getting ridiculous.
September has rolled around and the Phoenix Suns STILL have not acquired a veteran, starting caliber point guard to help lead their young team out of the depths of embarrassment as an NBA franchise.
“We targeted a three year window for rebuilding,” McDonough said after the Igor Kokoskov presser earlier this summer. “It’s been painful, but the three years is up and we’re going to make some moves to bring in some veterans and help the team hopefully take a big step next year. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that happens.”
In are veterans Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson, making $35 million between them next season to stand behind the three point line and shoot threes at a 38% clip. Around them are a bunch of young guys who need a lead playmaker.
I just spent the week watching old Suns games on NBATV, led by Steve Nash in the oughts, and Kevin Johnson in the late 80s-early 90s. Steve Nash is a surefire NBA Hall of Famer. Kevin would already be in there if he wasn’t so creepy with his... Johnson. Jason Kidd — Mr. late 90s — will be in the Hall as well. That’s our point guard past.
What’s our point guard present? A pair of G-leaguers and a pair of rookies.
Everyone knew the Suns would try to acquire a point guard in their aggressiveness. ESPN’s Zach Lowe’s said it for all of us in this free agency primer on June 28:
“The easiest call on the board: Phoenix acquiring a point guard, either in free agency or via trade.”
But the Suns struck out on acquiring anyone.
Suns have definitely been trying to trade for a front tier point guard - Lillard, Walker, Rozier - but to no avail. Situation at point guard now is not ideal and Phoenix will have to make a trade but Milwaukee pick that they own is not that valuable.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) August 31, 2018
To distract us for a while, they placed Mr. More Millions Paid Than Games Played onto the cover of their 2018-19 playbill and touted him as a veteran leader. Then dumped Brandon Knight a month later.
And now the Suns — FOUR MONTHS into the offseason — are down to their last three weeks before having to paint a smile on their faces and pretend Isaiah Canaan and Shaquille Harrison are a good point guard duo for a team that has “compete” aspirations.
Sure, the Suns added a ton of shooting this summer. Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza and rookie Mikal Bridges all have proven ability to make threes along with star shooting guard Devin Booker and marginal player Dragan Bender. All of them will pull defenders another step or two closer to the three-point line and out of the passing and cutting lanes.
And center Deandre Ayton has his own version of gravity, pulling defenders into the paint, which also creates a bit of room for slashers and cutters. With more room to move, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson could thrive.
The pieces are there for an exciting offense... until you remember who’s running the point.
The Suns HAVE to acquire a point guard, and soon.
How have they used their assets this summer?
- #16 pick (Miami) this year — used to acquire Mikal Bridges
- #31 pick this year — used on Elie Okobo
- 2021 Miami pick (unprotected) — used to acquire Mikal Bridges
- Marquese Chriss (2016 #8 pick) — used to acquire De’Anthony Melton
- up to $18 million in cap space without needing trades to dump more salary — used on Trevor Ariza
- erstwhile starting point Brandon Knight — used to acquire Ryan Anderson
What did all that get us?
With Ryan Anderson and Dragan Bender in tow for the power forward/small center spots, that pushes Trevor Ariza back to small forward for many of his minutes.
The Suns now have four small forwards — Ariza, T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges — who ALL need playing time and NO point guards who truly need playing time next season.
Sounds like a surplus.
Plus the Suns still have some other assets besides the players on their roster:
- 2019/20 Bucks pick (protected to 1-7 and 17-30 in 2019, 1-7 in 2020)
- 2019-to-forever Suns draft picks, likely high
- Darrell Arthur’s $7.4 million salary slot that could be used for salary purposes without impacting roster players.
The Suns need a real point guard. Now.
Be that one of the Clippers extras (Patrick Beverly or Milos Teodosic) or a big time name like Kemba Walker or (a guy can dream!) former point Goran Dragic.
Will any of them be available in trades? Probsbly not. The Suns would have to overpay to get someone at this point.
If they don’t, my win projection drops to 25-27 games.
Look out for our own Evan Sidery to suggest some trades in a post later today. For now, play the trade machine amongst yourselves.