A couple of nuggets can be gleaned from Keith Smith’s notebook from talking to coaches and executive at summer league earlier this month, shared on realgm.com last week.
Take a look at his whole notebook, but I’ll save you the time of finding the Suns comments in them so we can take them apart and over-analyze them like only a team-specific blog looking for heated discussion can do.
Opposing executive on the Suns offseason: “Outside of our own team, the conversation we’ve had most is ‘What is Phoenix doing?’ You have any ideas? It looked like they were clearing cap space, but then they took money on later. I don’t get it.
But in the end, they look kind of…good? Maybe that is too strong. Better? Yeah. Better is a good way to put it. They got helpful guys for them.”
Clearly, James and Jones and his staff have not made fast friends with all the other league executives. This is the kind of mindset that fuels national writers’ takes. If all the league execs and coaches could see the Suns plan, so would the national writers because they’d hear it from other league execs.
What I find LOL-worthy, though, is how that very same executive literally spent the next 15 seconds clearly explaining their plan and how the Suns might actually be good this year.
Remember, James Jones began the summer with a couple of historically failed lottery picks, a measly one extra bad first rounder (Bucks’ pick) and $9 million in cap space. He somehow flipped all that into significantly better team that’s still young (under 24 average age) and has more flexibility (tons of cap space next two summers).
But no one understands the plan? Okay.
Opposing coach on playing Phoenix: “The last couple of years you knew you had a win unless (Devin) Booker got hot. They just didn’t have anything else. Now, they sort of have an identity. You have to be on your game now.
I think the guy who is being underrated there is Dario Saric. He’s really a great fit next to Ayton. He’s already done that for years next to (Joel) Embiid and (Karl-Anthony) Towns. I bet he’s the best of all the guys they added.”
You guys can likely agree with me that we’ve spent more time stewing over Dario’s backups (Frank Kaminsky and Cheick Diallo) than we’ve spent on Dario himself.
Check out my article on what a Wolves blogger says about Dario from his time in Minnesota last year, and look out for my article coming tomorrow on Dario’s two years in Philly.
Remember, Saric is still just 25 years old, one season removed from being a full-time power forward starter for a 52-win Sixers team that made it to the second round of the playoffs.
Team executive on the draft: “At our original spot, we didn’t want to bring in another guy who was too similar to Devin (Booker) and Mikal (Bridges). We’re high on those guys. Reading the board, we thought that was going to be who was there. So, we moved back and also picked up Dario (Saric).
Did we draft Cameron Johnson too high? No. We didn’t. This guy is ready to play now and will be a great shooter in our league. And then later in the night we added Ty Jerome, who can give us another big guard. Not everyone agrees, and that’s ok, but we think we had a great draft.”
Now, this is interesting.
It looks like the Suns executive is saying they decided they didn’t want to bring in Jarrett Culver because of the existence of Booker and Bridges already. That means the Suns see the 6’6” Culver clearly as a wing player, which might be different than many of us thought of him. Didn’t most of us think he’d be the future at point guard next to Booker, with Booker doing a lot of the ball handling — similar to how many of us saw Malcolm Brogdon fitting in? Culver was not a point guard in college, but he did lead the offense fairly often in the tournament last spring.
Obviously, time will tell. We’ll see if Culver ends up being a better playmaker than the Suns thought he’d be.