Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but I cannot deny that the Suns suddenly appear to have some legitimacy in the leadership department with general manager James Jones and head coach Monty Williams.
Both are highly respected around the league, which could influence the thinking among the most sought-after free agents on the market.
Kyrie Irving looks sure to be gone from the Boston Celtics, as does Jimmy Butler from the Sixers. Kawhi Leonard is likely on the move from the Raptors too. And Kevin Durant has been dodging questions for the past year since signing the one-year deal last summer with the Warriors.
Oh sure, there are much better markets than Phoenix, and the Suns chances are still quite slim. An early-20s heavy roster with the fewest wins in the league over the last six years is not a recipe for immediate success, and if that doesn’t scare you away the crackpot owner will.
Los Angeles, mostly the Clippers but also the Lakers, and New York, both the Knicks and Nets, have big money to spend and mystique of history on their side. Logic would dictate that at least three if not all four of Irving, Leonard, Butler and Durant end up in one of those two cities if they leave their current teams.
So why am I blowing smoke about the Suns here?
It’s a Suns blog
Let’s get this one out of the way. It’s a blog. We are allowed to dream and this is the place to do it.
Especially when a player like Kevin Durant says this about your new coach.
"Phoenix, their whole organization, got a great leader to step in and kind of take it to the next level." Kevin Durant about #Suns new head coach Monty Williams.https://t.co/Y8dXPXxarN pic.twitter.com/S8atHJA9BI— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) May 7, 2019
Elite young talent
No other young team can boast so much high-end talent under the age of 23, including one of the best two-guards in the league in Devin Booker and a potential mismatch nightmare that now looks quite well-suited for the playoffs in Deandre Ayton.
Add in a top pick in June, Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson, and you’ve got the potential for a dynamic team next season if they can add the right parts this summer.
It’s possible a big-time free could see himself as that culture-changing part.
“They want to see that they have players that they either could lead or players that they can follow,” James Jones said earlier this year. “I think we have players at this stage of their career that are really, really good players that an elite free agent would say ‘I think I can lead those guys to the promised land.’”
Monty and James
Human beings are predictable, and when it comes to human nature there’s no difference between you and the world’s elite.
We are drawn to folks who exude energy, trust and confidence, especially when they spend the day telling us how incredible we are.
That’s the free agent dance, and suddenly the Suns are well-armed with two of the most-respected men in the league with James Jones and Monty Williams.
My guess is that every free agent and their agent will take a call from Jones or Williams, and none of them will decline a sit-down if the fit and the promise of money look to be a match.
“But it still comes back down to facilities; it comes down to culture,” Jones admits.
Since then, the Suns have announced ground-breaking on a state of the art practice facility, major renovations to TSR Arena and have hired Monty Williams as the coach.
Jerry Colangelo on #Suns hire of Monty Williams: “He’s the whole package. I’m very excited for the opportunity he has to coach in Phoenix and he’s going to do a great job.” https://t.co/YaSZOoT01Z— azcentral sports (@azcsports) May 7, 2019
Yeah, but the Suns don’t have money
Ah, but they do. I wrote about it recently, and I’ll repeat it here.
While the Suns will only start the off season with a few million in cap space without making roster moves, they can create $31 million in space without any other teams’ help by just clearing the books of Kelly Oubre Jr. (cap hold), Richaun Holmes (cap hold) and Tyler Johnson (waive/stretch).
And $31 million is plenty of money to get that star free agent under contract, with a rotation that looks like this.
- PG: De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo
- SG: Devin Booker, Josh Jackson
- SF: T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges
- PF: Zion Williamson (No. 1 overall pick)
- C: Deandre Ayton
If your big time free agent is a point guard: perfect! Come on down Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker or D’Angelo Russell.
If your big time free agent is a small forward, then you find a taker for Jackson and/or Warren and replace them with a starting-level point guard. Welcome, Durant, Leonard, Butler or Tobias Harris.
If your big time free agent is Klay Thompson, you pair him with Booker in a backcourt and call it a huge win.
The Suns have options now.
And could possibly have the right people in place to convince free agents that the team is in good hands right now.