New Suns GM James Jones has already shot off all his fireworks this offseason, overhauling a roster desperately in need of overhaul after winning only 25 percent of their games these last two years.
Jones has only kept Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges (and, for the moment, Elie Okobo) from a roster he inherited less than nine months ago.
Unless the team wants to use rookies as their primary scoring threats off the bench, it’s Dario Saric or bust at the moment. So look for the Suns to likely move on from Okobo (or Jevon Carter, I guess), and fill in the roster with one more under-38-year-old shooter and a backup forward/center (maybe Ray Spalding?).
Is this roster better?
Well, the starting lineup looks much better compared to last year. Dario Saric is a clear upgrade at power forward (over Ryan ‘is it okay if I miss every shot and do nothing else?’ Anderson), Kelly Oubre Jr. is an upgrade at small forward (over Trevor ‘I’ll play hard as soon as the person chef arrives’ Ariza) and of course Ricky Rubio is miles better at point guard (over Isaiah ‘you know I’m a combo guard that can’t pass or shoot right?’ Canaan).
And, it stands to reason that Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will both be better next year, thanks to natural development, coaching and a better supporting cast. They will likely lead the team in scoring, combining for — my guess — 40 percent of the offense.
But this new roster came at a cost. Some would call it a heavy cost.
As part of the churn, James Jones sent away not only all 11 players as detailed above, but also some totally free extras thrown in for good measure.
Though he still has some assets in his coffers, and possibly more if (cross fingers!) Frank Kaminsky’s second year is non-guaranteed.
It remains to be seen whether the Suns are better next year or not, though it sure appears to be a better team.
Could James Jones have done better? Of course he could have! At every turn, it seems like he could have gotten more for less.
But Ryan McDonough had a string of A and B grades from a draft record that ultimately busted out except for Devin Booker. The 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 drafts ALL GONE, and barely hanging on in the NBA. And McDonough made some “good” trades, though all that maneuvering culminated in a team that got worse every single year.
Winning is the bottom line.
If the Suns win 30-plus games with upward trajectory from the youngsters (their starting lineup is still only 24 years old on average next year!), then all this churn will have been worth it.
It’s time to climb out of the muck.
Only time will tell.