While Phoenix Suns’ fans fret over Devin Booker’s hand, the general manager has to shore up the point guard spot regardless of who is playing shooting guard.
Yesterday, we covered the potential of adding Spencer Dinwiddie. Today, it’s Cory Joseph.
Right now at point guard, the Suns only have two G-Leaguers from last year — Isaiah Canaan and Shaquille Harrison — and a pair of rookies in Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton.
That’s not going to get anything done.
Local reporter John Gambadoro reported a couple of days ago that the Suns have dialed back their targets from guys like Damian Lillard to lesser players on expiring deals.
All three players are on expiring contracts of varying size. Joseph ($7.9 million) and Beverley ($5 million) will be unrestricted free agents next summer, while Dinwiddie ($1.6 million) will be restricted.
That puts the Suns right back into the point guard market next summer when a veritable plethora of starting caliber playmakers hit the market, including Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell (restricted) and Ricky Rubio, among a dozen or more that are better than anything the Suns have right now or DID have (i.e. Brandon Knight).
But back to 2018, and this latest rumor.
Dinwiddie is the youngest (24 years old), while Joseph is 26 and Pat Bev is 30.
CoJo and Bev are considered good defenders but poor/limited playmakers, while Dinwiddie provides the most upside offensively but is not as known for his defense.
Can the Suns acquire any of these guys?
Over the next three days, we will unveil exclusive scouting reports and negotiations with the GMs of the Nets, Pacers and Clippers blogs.
It’s always great to hear THEIR side of the story rather than just focus myopically on our own opinions.
Today is Cory Joseph day
Today we hear from Caitlin Cooper, Deputy Manager at IndyCornrows.com
Hope you enjoy it!
- Is Cory Joseph the odd man out of the PG rotation this season with Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans and rookie Aaron Holiday on hand?
Caitlin Cooper, Indy Cornrows: Kevin Pritchard imagined Aaron Holiday as the team’s third-string point guard on draft night, and early indicators are that Tyreke Evans is expected to come off the bench alongside Cory Joseph. That being said, given that the Pacers got outscored by 7.3 points per 100 possessions when Victor Oladipo was on the bench last season, Nate McMillan will likely make every effort to ensure that either Oladipo or Evans is always on the floor to act as a dynamic playmaker. Evans, by virtue of his ability to both rise above the pick and attack downhill, also arguably provides the most reliable answer for how Oladipo can remain a scorer when teams try to force him into being a passer.
As such, if at some point later in the season the Pacers decide to go with a Houston-style rotation (i.e. Evans subbing out early and returning late to handle the ball for the bench while Oladipo plays all but a few minutes of the first quarter before exchanging the baton again midway through the second frame and ultimately closing the half together), then the potential would be there for Darren Collison and Cory Joseph to only have around 32 minutes per game to split between them.
Whichever way the Pacers go, however, either Evans (who averaged just north of 30 minutes of action last season with the Grizzlies) or the combination of Collison and Joseph is likely going to need to make some sacrifices in terms of playing time, which could make for an interesting dynamic when all three players are set to play for new contracts.
- If Collison and Evans left, could Joseph be a long-term answer at PG for the Pacers (with Holiday his primary competition)?
Caitlin Cooper, Indy Cornrows: Unless Oladipo makes strides in terms of his ability to keep his dribble alive and throw the types of skip passes and one-handed whip passes that will make opponents think twice about abandoning the weak side corner to load up on his usual release valves whenever the screener’s man shows above thelevel of the pick, the Pacers would be better served conducting a thorough search for another secondary playmaker capable of covering for the first-time All-Star against traps before considering a scenario where Joseph would become the team’s lead point guard over multiple seasons.
As for Holiday, his speed and off-ball shooting have drawn comparisons to Darren Collison, but his turnover rate, both at Summer League as well as with UCLA, suggests that improving his decision-making at the NBA-level is going to be a process that probably shouldn’t reasonably be expected to happen over the course of his rookie season when limited to providing emergency depth.
- What would the Suns love about Joseph next to Devin Booker?
Caitlin Cooper, Indy Cornrows: His doggedness as a pesky defender at the point of attack — whether denying middle, earning key deflections, diving on loose balls, or vacuuming airspace while navigating around picks — is an asset against the opposing team’s top guard threat and could mask some of Booker’s deficiencies on that end of floor while allowing him to conserve energy.
For instance, just consider everything Joseph did defensively on this possession to the end the half against the Dallas Mavericks:
· Sinks into the legs of Salah Mejri to dissuade Devin Harris from making the drop-off pass
· Flies past Yogi Ferrell to bother his shot on the closeout
· Recovers back into the play to mirror his chest to Harrison Barnes in isolation
· Prevents Myles Turner from needing to trap the box
· Uses his body to prevent Barnes from tracking down the rebound
On the season, the Pacers held opponents to 10.8 points per 100 possessions fewer when Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, and Myles Turner were on the floor with Cory Joseph as opposed to Darren Collison.
- What would the Suns hate about it? Or, how would the Suns struggle?
Caitlin Cooper, Indy Cornrows: After shooting 41 percent from three over his first 37 games last season, Joseph only converted 31 percent in his remaining 45 games, which means the shifty guard may not make for the most reliable stop-release (a la Darren Collison’s low-volume efficiency) if he were pigeonholed into that role with Booker continuing to develop into a James Harden-like shot-creator and playmaker.
- From the Pacers point of view, why would they even consider trading Joseph this month? Would they be more interested in February?
Caitlin Cooper, Indy Cornrows: The Pacers were disciplined this summer in how they went about upgrading the roster without sacrificing financial flexibility. Given that they are set up to have around $25 million in starting cap space without renouncing or waiving any players or picks, the front office likely won’t be in any hurry to trade Joseph’s expiring contract next season unless a long-shot opportunity presents itself to use his salary cap figure as part of larger trade package to bring in a long-term answer at wing or interchangeable forward.
- What should the Pacers demand in return for Joseph, to convince them to trade him to the Suns? Would it take more than a future second round pick, or a swap of one of the Suns’ young point guards (Elie Okobo or De’Anthony Melton)?
Caitlin Cooper, Indy Cornrows: As was evidenced by him leading the Pacers in fourth-quarter minutes last season, Joseph provides Indiana with utility in addition to coming off the books. With the option to adjust for offense or defense in late-game situations, it doesn’t seem likely that Indiana would dump his contract for a second-rounder or swap him for a less experienced point guard heading into the playoffs unless the logjam in the backcourt was somehow disrupting the team’s chemistry.
T.J. Warren works as a centerpiece, and Phoenix’s wing rotation is looking a little crowded after adding Trevor Ariza and Mikal Bridges to the mix with Josh Jackson. However, taking on the inconsistent forward’s low three-point attempt rate would run contrary to Pritchard’s emphasis on surrounding Oladipo with shooters, and it would mean sacrificing the flexibility that was conscientiously preserved for 2019 and beyond.
The Pacers might eventually have discussions with other teams about Joseph or perhaps Collison, but it would be surprising if they were with the Suns.
Based on Caitlyn’s analysis, the Suns don’t seem to have the kind of assets the Pacers would want in exchange for Joseph’s $7.9 million contract to make the money match.
It’s also a stretch to envision Joseph as a full-time starter for any team. In seven seasons with the Spurs, Raptors and Pacers, Joseph has never started more than 22 games in a season. Sure, he was behind Tony Parker in SA and Kyle Lowry in Toronto, but he’s even behind Darren Collison in Indiana.
But his defense would be a sight for sore eyes in Phoenix, and that’s what the Suns need from the point guard position when they’re playing a rookie (Ayton) and a pair of bullfighters in Booker and Anderson in the starting lineup.