Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
I dare say that few Suns fans were pleased with last week. Not only did the Suns lose all four games and extended their losing streak to 14 games but also left us completely underwhelmed at the trade deadline.
Personally, I am pleased - a little - with them for acquiring Tyler Johnson from the Heat. Swapping an unplayable bench warmer (Ryan Anderson) for a solid rotation player is a win, even if only a small one. It wasn’t the franchise altering trade that many had hoped for but it was a small move in the right direction.
Perhaps that’s all that we should be expecting from the Suns for a while... small moves in the right direction. I’ve seen some of that from the players as well. Many players have individual improvements over the course of the season. Their team play on both offense and defense has improved. Small steps for sure but steps in the right direction.
This summer I’m hoping for bigger steps though. I don’t expect a blockbuster trade or an All-Star free agent signing but the holes in this roster at point guard and power forward need to be filled with at least quality veterans that aren’t on the downside of their careers. That hasn’t worked for the Suns and it won’t ever work when you’re counting on that type of player to play a big role in your team. Those are the guys you sign when you already have a very good team and only need them for 10-12 solid minutes a night off the bench. And pin your hopes to the Zion Williamson Draft Sweepstakes if you must but I can’t. Winning the lottery two years in a row just seems like too much to hope for.
In case you haven’t noticed, the Suns did not sign Emanuel Terry to a second 10-day contract and are now back below the 14 player minimum. Another 10-day player will eventually be signed but the Suns have two open roster spots that could also be used to sign someone off the buyout market. Most bought out players will first look to sign with a playoff bound team but the Suns might also find someone to add once the dust clears. There will be plenty of time to make those decisions though as the All-Star break is almost upon us.
Speaking of the All-Star break, once again the only Suns players there will either be involved in activities other than the All-Star game or in the stands watching. Devin Booker will be there as the defending three-point champion on Saturday night and Deandre Ayton will be playing for Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge game on Friday night.
One more game to go for the Suns before then. The Suns have one of the easiest schedules in the NBA following the All-Star break (27th in remaining SOS) so hopefully their losing streak will soon come to an end and they add enough Ws between now and the end of the season to at least avoid this being their worst ever season record.
Fantable Questions of the Week
1. What are your thoughts on the acquisition of Tyler Johnson?
GuarGuar: I’m pretty fine with this trade. We are taking on $4 million more in salary, but we are getting an NBA rotation player. Ryno couldn’t even sniff the court for us after his horrific start to the season. So we basically acquired a rotation NBA player for 4 million dollars. Not a big deal at all. This trade will probably have little impact on the court, but this offseason/next season his expiring deal could definitely be used in a big trade.
Sun-Arc: I was not excited by the Suns activity at the trade deadline this year. Tyler Johnson has been a slightly below average NBA player in his five seasons. He is likely to be a bit more consistent than Melton (and definitely more so than Okobo), so the acquisition may be a small plus. We won’t know until he plays. His assists and AST% is lower than both Melton and Crawford. His defense and rebounding numbers this season are not nearly as good as Melton’s. But his .353% 3pt shooting is better than the other two guys (.312, .282) and overall eFG% of .516 is also better (.430, .424). I guess we’ll see.
SDKyle: It was a fine trade. Ryan Anderson was unplayable and doing the Suns no good parked on the bench. Tyler Johnson is not a solution at PG, but he’s a playable NBA player. The fact that the trade cost money reduces my enthusiasm a bit, but it was a solid move in and of itself.
SouthernSun: I am happy something happened I suppose? I’d rather watch Tyler Johnson start at PG than anybody else on the team. Even though he’s not necessarily a point guard, or starting quality, he’s at least an NBA caliber player. So that bumps up the teams number of those from about 5 to 6. So that’s nice. He’s a decent defender and a decent scorer with a little bit of playmaking ability and an average three point shot. He’s a rotation NBA player. Which automatically makes him the best guard Book has played with in a long time. As an expiring contract next season, perhaps the Suns will be able to trade him with picks this summer for someone more exciting, who fits more neatly into one of the two most major holes on this roster.
Alex Sylvester: Initially when I saw Woj tweet that we acquire Johnson and those were the only details leaked, I was disgusted. But with the rest of the details coming out, it turned out to be a pretty solid move for the Suns.
Johnson isn’t great by any stretch, but he is a MID 20’S PLAYER, something this franchise hasn’t seen in decades (or so it feels like). He can shoot well from deep, and he plays with a good amount of effort. He’ll find his way getting minutes immediately, unlike Anderson who was done contributing anything to this franchise.
They practically swung a deal to avoid dead cap next year and paid an extra 4 mil for a rotational piece on an expiring deal. It’s a pretty good move with context, and he’s better than anything we’ve got at PG currently.
2. Are there any players that were traded to other teams that you believe the Suns should have made a play for?
GuarGuar: Kristaps Porzingis is really the only big name I was bummed we didn’t go after. And he is a big risk to be clear, but definitely one that could be worth it. Dallas’s offer wasn’t even great, we could have easily matched that or done better if we had expiring contracts to deal. Unfortunately, we cut or dealt a ton of expiring money. That definitely killed our chances as NY was strictly using KP as a salary dump. Another mistake by the front office.
Sun-Arc: I would have liked to see if we could have gotten Mirotic from the Pelicans, but the haul they got in return for the unrestricted free agent was too high for my taste. Stanley Johnson (and Jason Smith) might have meant it would have cost us Josh Jackson and another piece and I wouldn’t do that for an UFA.
Julius Randle was another player I would have liked to pick up. For him I would have traded one of TJ, Oubre, or JJ and the MIL pick because he’d be a RFA that has a player option next year at $9m.
Jrue Holiday would have been the dream, but it appears the Pellies had no interest in trading him.
Same with Lonzo Ball. But there was no interest from either the lakers or NOP to give us Ball without us giving them Booker. Apparently they really like Ball and don’t care for anything else we have.
Mike Conley would have also been a nice piece, but it appears they just sort of reloaded with Valanciunas at that position. Plus they got Delon Wright.
Delon Wright was available? Well, then I would have been trying to get him. Though, again, he’s an UFA- so we can go after him in the off season.
SDKyle: It would’ve been nice to land Mirotic if the price tag was mostly picks and some bland randoms, but I think the Suns FO was caught having too little to offer to be relevant in most of these trade talks. When other GMs think the most you have to offer is T.J. Warren and a late first, you’re not going to be at the top of the list for teams they call. Of all the activity flying around last week, I’d bet the Suns only got seriously involved in a couple of talks.
SouthernSun: Nikola Mirotic would have been a fun idea, but I suppose it doesn’t make too terribly much long term sense to trade anything for him for 20 some odd games. Markelle Fultz would have made some sense, but perhaps the Suns didn’t think they could fix him, or didn’t want to pay the cost to take that risk. Delon Wright is another young-ish point guard that might have made some sense to try and snag. Avery Bradley was also available, and only 2 million of his 12 million dollars owed him in 2019 is fully guaranteed if he’s waived at the beginning of July. So he might have made sense. I think it would have been worth it to get rid of that salary this summer to trade Ryan Anderson and two future 2nd rounders to the Clippers for him.
Alex Sylvester: Not really.
It’s easy to say Mirotic as a seamless fit for the team but for what purpose would there be for the Suns to get him? Had he been locked down for years in a contract, sure. But he’s a FA to be. Him being on a 30 games below .500 team with no hope in sight would do nobody any benefit.
If you want him, make moves this summer and make it known to the rest of the league that you’re done being a bottom feeder. Trade your first next year, go after trade and FAs hard when your record is 0-0.
3. The Suns still have an open roster spot. Is there anyone that is getting bought out that they should try to sign to a rest of the season contract?
GuarGuar: Milos Teodosic is someone I don’t mind signing as a stop gap point guard for the remainder of the season. We really lack playmakers, and that’s basically all Milos does. Would be nice to see what Booker/Ayton could do with a true playmaker in the lineup.
Sun-Arc: One option is Milos Teodosic, who was waived by the clippers (along with Gortat, apparently). That would be a pretty low-risk move for a starting caliber PG. Yeah, it kind of makes the $20m man Tyler Johnson a backup- but that might be what is best for the development of guys like Ayton, Bridges, and others. Even if the defense suffers, just to have someone show those guys how to set up teammates could be worth it. He’s old and far from stupendous, but he has a higher assist rate and better 3PT% than the other PG’s on the team. For sure he’d be the best passer we’ve had since Goran Dragic was traded. And Igor is a big fan of Milos, calling him a “legend” of European basketball.
SDKyle: Not especially. Why? Because whoever this team has floating around on the periphery it doesn’t matter. They won’t win games and they don’t really want to be in Phoenix to ride out the tank. It’s meaningless. Life is meaningless.
SouthernSun: Apparently Milos Teodosic is being bought out, so probably him. He would be able to run this team better than anybody else on the roster, including Johnson and Booker. But I doubt that happens. He will be snapped up by a contender or go back to Europe where he’s a superstar and not a role player who gets bought out mid season.
Alex Sylvester: Frank Kaminsky is a name being floated around that could be okay. But quite honestly I don’t think it’s worth it for the Suns to go after one considering their current state.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, SDKyle, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!
32.7% vs 22.0%
The Suns have been one of the worst three point shooting teams all season long. 32.7% is their 3-point average for the season which is dead last in the NBA. 22.0% is what they shot from three last week. They shot 28.0% against Houston, 17.6% against Utah, 19.4% against Golden State and 22.2% against Sacramento.
Weekly Book Report
Season - 34.8 mpg, 24.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.7 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.2 bpg, 3.9 TO, 3.3 PF
46.3% FG, 32.9% 3PT, 84.4% FT
This week - 34.0 mpg, 23.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.5 TO, 4.5 PF
51.6% FG, 42.9% 3PT, 78.6% FT (2 DNP - Injured)
Random Stats: In the Suns’ last six games, Josh Jackson has averaged 21.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting 49.5% from the field and 36.4% from three.
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com and/or Basketball-Reference.com.
Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns - Full Game Highlights | February 4, 2019
Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz - Full Game Highlights | February 6, 2019
Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns - Full Highlights | February 8, 2019
Sacramento Kings vs Phoenix Suns - Full Highlights | February 10, 2019
Quote of the Week
“With our veteran guys and the consistency we’re trying to build, the stability we’re trying to build and the way we treat our guys, I think you’ll see it’s appreciated by players that have to take a bet or a gamble on Phoenix. They say, ‘if I go there, I know I’ll be treated right.’” - James Jones
Deandre Ayton - 31.0 mpg, 16.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg, 1.8 TO, 2.9 PF
- This week - 32.3 mpg, 18.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.5 TO, 3.5 PF
Mikal Bridges - 27.9 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.5 bpg, 0.8 TO, 2.4 PF, 35.7% 3PT
- This week - 37.5 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.8 TO, 3.8 PF, 27.3% 3PT
De’Anthony Melton - 20.5 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.7 TO, 2.6 PF, 31.2% 3PT
- This week - DNP (Injured)
Elie Okobo - 19.0 mpg, 5.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.4 TO, 2.3 PF, 27.2% 3PT
- This week - 22.6 mpg, 3.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.0 bpg, 2.5 TO, 2.3 PF, 0.0% 3PT
George King - 5.9 mpg, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.0 TO, 0.0 PF
- This week - DNP (Assigned to NAZ Suns)
Statistics courtesy of NBA.com.
News & Notes
Suns’ James Jones endures ‘painful’ season, contract decisions and search for point guards. Duane Rankin/Arizona Republic
Suns’ Ayton has signature post moves, path to offensive dominance in sight. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports
Suns rookie Mikal Bridges earning a bigger role with increased confidence. Katherine Fitzgerald/Arizona Republic
The 5: Characteristics of James Jones’ Suns co-interim GM tenure. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports
The Suns Are Building Toward Stage Two Of Their Rebuild. UPROXX
This Week in Suns History
In February of 1986, the struggling 1985-86 Suns (final record of 32-50) had no players selected for the All-Star game for the first time in team history.
In the Summer of 1972, the Phoenix Suns unveiled their new “Western font” uniforms. The iconic design was worn by the Suns for the next 19 years.
Previewing the Week Ahead
Wednesday, February 13 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Clippers, 8:30 pm AZT
Only one game this week before the beginning of the NBA’s All-Star break and it’s against a Clippers team that made some significant changes at the trade deadline. Those changes seem to have worked out well for the Clips as they won their first game - against the Celtics in Boston - after all their new additions joined them. Of course, the Celtics losing Kyrie Irving in the second quarter also had something to do with that win as the Clippers were down by 28 points before then.
The Clips are obviously still good but just how good is debatable at the moment. Perhaps the Suns will be able to take advantage of their adjustment period after several personnel changes but I have enough doubts to still call this one another loss for the Suns.
The Suns will go 0-1 this week.
What’s your prediction?
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “The Suns’ will...”
50% - Finish this season with at least 17 wins.
50% - Finish this season with 16 or fewer wins.
There were 190 votes cast.
This week’s poll is...
The Suns’ biggest problem has been...
This poll is closed
No good point guard.
No good power forward.
No good coach.
No good general manager/front office.
No good owner.
Author’s note: I decided against adding an “All of the above” option although some might think that would be the most appropriate answer.