Leading up to this offseason, General Manager Ryan McDonough hyped up aggressiveness from the front office in terms of improving their roster. That mentality showed itself through in trading for Mikal Bridges on draft night plus signing Trevor Ariza to a 1-year, $15 million deal minutes after free agency began.
However, the Suns weren’t planning on Ariza being the only win-now piece.
JJ Redick, who hosts his own podcast on The Ringer, joined ESPN’s Zach Lowe to discuss his summer alongside the process of returning to Philadelphia on a 1-year, $12.3 million contract. Surprisingly, the decision for Redick to once again be a member of the 76ers wasn’t an easy one.
When Lowe asked Redick near the end of their interview about how his free agency went, the 34-year-old shooting guard didn’t hold anything back. Not only did he mention that the Indiana Pacers offered him more money than Philadelphia, but the Los Angeles Lakers were also eagerly awaiting placing Redick on the court with LeBron James. Those three teams, all of which have huge playoff aspirations for this upcoming season, made plenty of sense for Redick, but he kicked off the topic by mentioning an organization that likes to keep their moves in the dark.
“Phoenix was the one team that said we can make something happen straight away,” Redick told Lowe.
That’s interesting, because after signing Ariza the Suns were nearly capped out with less than $1.5 million in available space. Redick clarified to Lowe that the Suns would have opened up the necessary room via trade.
Over 10 weeks later, it’s easy to connect the dots with how Phoenix would’ve made a lucrative offer to Redick. Jared Dudley was dealt to Brooklyn for the smaller contract of Darrell Arthur, which helped them squeeze former 76er Richaun Holmes into their remaining cap space with no issues. Also, Davon Reed’s guarantee date was pushed back to after Las Vegas Summer League.
Just by salary dumping Dudley and declining Reed would have freed up nearly $12.1 million. And if the Suns instead wanted to move off Troy Daniels’s expiring contract, that would have pushed Phoenix to almost $14 million. Realistically, the latter option was the direction they planned to go in.
Who knows, maybe a sign-and-trade would have went down involving Dudley, Daniels and a future second-round pick for Redick and Holmes, if Redick verbally agreed to sign with Phoenix. Ultimately, as we all know, Redick decided to re-sign in Philadelphia for one more year with a price tag of $12.25 million.
It’s fascinating to circle back and see how the Suns’ summer would have gone if they pulled off Redick and Ariza. (I’m also assuming that they were planning to move on from Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss anyway, so the Ryan Anderson deal likely still unfolds). The depth chart would not have changed much from where it stands now, but adding in an additional perimeter threat would have gone a long way towards immediate improvement.
PG: Harrison, Okobo, Melton
SG: Booker, Redick, Reed
SF: Ariza, Jackson, Bridges
PF: Anderson, Warren, Bender
C: Ayton, Chandler, Holmes
Maybe the Suns would have rolled with Booker starting at point guard while placing Redick at shooting guard, but that would become a turnstile on defense. Most likely, the former Duke Blue Devil would have been signed to be the Suns’ sixth man. The additional shooting from Redick, shot 42% on 3s last season, would have been a huge help to the likes of Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren in the second unit.
It might be time to mark down Redick as one of the Suns’ main free agent targets for next summer, as once again there will be a hole to fill behind Booker at the two-guard position.