Three days before training camp for the 2018-19 season — THREE DAYS — the Phoenix Suns still do not have a starting-caliber point guard to play next to Devin Booker.
This is ridiculous.
And your weekly reminder of how embarrassing it is to be Phoenix Suns fan these days.
The Suns are not only NOT a destination for trade-demanding stars, but they can’t even close the deal for one of the 20 or so quality point guards on team rosters around the NBA. Or even one of the 40 or so guys who’d be better than anyone the Suns have right now.
This isn’t a new problem either.
On April 11, the day after the season-ender over Dallas, when the Suns joined just under half the league vacationing for the summer while the majority of the league started the REAL season of playoff basketball, the Suns needed a real point guard.
And this was even when they had two starting-caliber point guards on the roster! We just didn’t want those guys.
At the time, that roster “boasted” four-year starter Elfrid Payton (only 19 games in Phoenix though) and six-year starter Brandon Knight (two half-seasons in Phoenix).
Yet we still demanded a new point guard because... well, that doesn’t need to be explained. Almost no one can make an inarguable statement on why the Suns should have wanted to enter the 2018-19 season with either Payton or Knight at the helm.
The Suns had ALL SUMMER to rectify this problem.
Trades. Free agency. The Draft.
All come and gone.
And what do we have?
The four-year veteran and six-year veteran have been replaced by a pair of rookies who, by definition, have never played a game in the NBA. And neither has even run the show for their pre-NBA teams for more than a year.
Elie Okobo was an off-guard until becoming his team’s primary playmaker last year in France.
De’Anthony Melton was a freshman in college, and a combo guard at that, the last time he played organized basketball.
And yet those guys are the new hope.
I know some of you are quietly optimistic that Shaquille Harrison — whose never been a lead guard either — can morph into a high-minutes NBA level point guard. But I have my doubts.
And it’s not like the GM doesn’t share my feelings.
GM Ryan McDonough said in the middle of last season he would prioritize getting a point guard.
Then he acquired Elfrid Payton and said he likes Payton. A lot.
Then he renounced his rights to Payton to avoid bringing him back in 2018-19.
Then he said he likes Brandon Knight. A lot.
Then he traded Brandon Knight for a power forward.
Then word spread he wanted big names, like Damian Lillard and Terry Rozier and Kemba Walker.
Then he said, last week, that he likes the Suns own young guards and would be happy to go into the 2018-19 with them as his point guard rotation.
Then word spread he was desperate to acquire an expiring-contract point guard to play in front of them.
Patrick Beverley and Spencer Dinwiddie and Cory Joseph are all kinda-extra parts on their teams and should be available. But none have been acquired yet.
Today, Zach Lowe mentioned the Suns have also kicked the tires on Tyus Jones, a young backup who could potentially prove to be a long term answer, but also in the final-year-of-contract mold of the afore-mentioned three.
Jones played 18 minutes per game in Minny last year over all 82 games, averaging 5 points (38% 3P shooting) and just under 3 assists per game. His per-36 isn’t great, but he gets steals which ups his advanced-stats profile tremendously.
Here’s one of his very good games last year, to give you a glimpse of his potential.
You get the feeling the Suns will try to wiggle their way into being a facilitator in the Butler trade and end up with their point guard that way, which happens to involve the Clippers (Beverley, Milos Teodosic), Nets (Dinwiddie, De’Angelo Russell) and the Wolves of course (Jones, Jeff Teague).
But that just means the Suns are now tying their wagon to other peoples’ negotiations. Which means the timeline is in someone else’s hands. And a simple two-team trade might be put on indefinite hold.
Three days before training camp.
Three days before a rookie coach has to install a new offense and defense, definitely without his star shooting guard (Devin Booker) and probably without his opening night point guard.