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Center of the Sun: New look Suns’ roster is still waiting on one big piece of the puzzle to make it complete

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How long will it take before a new deal is struck with RFA Kelly Oubre Jr.?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Summer League Suns Scoreboard

Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks W (105-100) Full Recap


That first Summer League win was fun and largely unexpected. On paper, the Summer Knicks looked to be the better team but then the games aren’t played on paper. Hopefully, last night’s victory is a sign of things to come when the 2019-20 season begins but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. There are still question marks that need to be addressed between now and then, including one big one.

Does anyone remember a song from the 90’s called “Waiting” by The Rentals?

”I’m waiting

With nothing to do

I’m waaaiiiting, just a waiting on you.”

Whether you’ve heard the song before or not, I’m sure those lyrics bring just one name to mind for Suns fans... Kelly Oubre Jr.

Hopefully this RFA thing doesn’t drag on and on through the Summer as it did long ago with Eric Bledsoe. Remember that? It was late September of 2014 before the Suns and Bledsoe finally came to an agreement on a new contract.

I certainly don’t want things to drag out like that again and I doubt that anyone else wants to see a sequel this summer. Sequels are usually worse than the original and when the original was bad ... well, sequels of bad movies have been made before although I’ve never figured out why.

The Suns have what I believe is one major move left to make this offseason and that is to come to some sort of an agreement to bring Oubre back ... or not. I want him back as much as anyone but he’s not indispensable. An offer sheet from another team isn’t likely to come at this point and a sign and trade opportunity also seems unlikely. That leaves signing a new contract with the Suns or playing out next season for the qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2020 as his most likely options.

If he believes he’s worth anywhere near a max deal then he should take the qualifying offer and see what he can get as an unrestricted free agent next next year. I would hate to see him do that but, if a reasonable contract number can’t be agreed upon, that might be the best way to go for both parties. While I wouldn’t blame Oubre for dragging things out in hope of securing the best deal possible, I don’t have to like it either.

The “Valley Boyz” thing is catchy and has many fans caught up in it but so did “The Timeline” not long ago.

Now isn’t the time to get caught up in hashtags or catchy phrases when deciding on the future of any team in the Western Conference. Overpaying Oubre could be just that but the big question here is, what would be an overpay for Oubre?

I freely admit that I do not have an exact figure in mind. That’s not the answer that I want to give and it’s probably not the answer that anyone wants to hear but there it is. That number has to take into consideration what his future role on the team is expected to be and that decision is ultimately up to James Jones. Head coach Monty Williams will determine what his role will eventually be but Monty really needs to work with him and the rest of the team to figure that out - which he hasn’t had the opportunity to do yet - so Jones will have to make his best guess to determine the final offer to Oubre.

There’s no denying that he’s been a very good addition to the Suns. He’s a very good player and deserves a significant pay increase but I don’t see him as our starting small forward of the future. I see Mikal Bridges as that but I also don’t see Bridges as being ready to step into that role right away. That means it would be best to bring Oubre back but not at all costs.

Of course my opinion isn’t one that matters when the Suns are making decisions. Whatever that final number turns out to be, hopefully it’s fair for both sides and it gets worked out soon.

A replay of the summer of 2014 isn’t something anyone really wants to see.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - Other than Ricky Rubio, which of the Suns’ new players do you think could have the most positive influence on team success this season?

GuarGuar: I’m going with Dario Saric for this one. I think he sees the most minutes out of Aron Baynes/Cameron Johnson/Ty Jerome/Frank Kaminsky. He’s playing a position we desperately need to be better at. Power forward was a huge issue for us last year. Dario needs to rebound the ball well and just be a competent defender. Hopefully Ayton will develop into the shot blocker we need. On the offensive end, Dario can provide some spacing and make smart team plays. He’s playing for a contract this season. I think he could have a huge impact on this team.

Sun-Arc: Outside of Oubre, who we’ve already seen, I’ll go with Saric, because I think his career average 36% perimeter shooting should really thrive with this group. And he can really pass well for a big man as well. Igor would have looked a lot better with Dario as the starting PF. And Williams should too.

SDKyle: Other than Rubio I’d have to say Dario Saric will have the most positive influence of the Suns’ new players. Saric is a legitimate PF, albeit one very much in the stretch mold. At worst he’s an average NBA forward, but if he can recapture a little bit of his early career swagger he could really improve the fortunes of this team. At one point not so long ago Saric was considered a legitimate part of Philadelphia’s “Process,” and it would be nice if he could be part of the Suns’ “Solution.”

SouthernSun: I’d say Dario Saric is going to have the most positive influence on the team of the new additions (aside from Rubio). He’s a PF, and a starting caliber one at that. Saric was a starting player on a playoff team just a couple of years ago. He can shoot, move the ball, and is an underrated team defender. He will be a major upgrade over Dragan Bender/playing a small forward at power forward.

Alex Sylvester: Considering Mr. Rubio is off the table (in the homeland as I type), let’s go with Dario Saric. In a contract year as well as an ideal fit offensively with Deandre Ayton, I can see Dario having a very efficient and effective season for the Suns. If he’s able to space the floor and let DA get to work, that alone will be a huge impact on the product the Suns put on the floor next year.

Rod Argent: I’m going to throw my two cents in on this one. I’ll agree with the Fantable members that Dario Saric will likely have the most positive impact of the new additions (other than Rubio) but I think that Cameron Johnson could be the dark horse in this race if his three point shooting (45.7% last season, 40.5% overall in college) translates to the NBA. That’s a big ‘if’ but it would be a huge plus for a Suns team that desperately needs better three-point shooting.

Q2 - James Jones has already overhauled the Suns’ roster but are there moves/acquisitions that still need to be made?

GuarGuar: I think our roster is pretty much set. I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon and Kelly still hasn’t been signed, but I can’t imagine he goes somewhere else this offseason. What we end up doing with Elie Okobo is pretty much the biggest question I have left. There’s been reports we are moving on from him, so I’m interested to see what happens. I think 90% of our offseason moves are done. It’s just end of the bench moves now.

Sun-Arc: Other moves? Jeez- I think swapping out twenty-two (!) players should be enough for now. Jones has definitely improved the team around Ayton and Booker. There are NBA-ready players at the starting positions, which we haven’t had in years. The work that still needs to be done is to construct a championship contender - but that isn’t going to happen this year. The idea should be to create incremental improvements from here, unless a disgruntled super star becomes available.

SDKyle: There are no realistic macro moves to make in the immediate future. The cap situation being what it is (Oubre situation aside) this is basically the team we’re rolling with. Depending on a lot of factors, though, I could see the Suns being aggressive in the trade market around the deadline trying to shore up the bench and add another shot-creator.

SouthernSun: The Suns need to get one more big man who can play significant minutes in a pinch. I nominate Alan Williams for that spot. We don’t want to have Saric or Kaminsky playing center if Ayton or Baynes miss a few games. Sauce has proven himself to be an NBA rotation worthy big, and has Phoenix roots. Who knows if he would come back here, but I like to think he would.

Alex Sylvester: RE-SIGN KELLY. THAT’S ALL.

Rod Argent: I’ll chime in on this one too as I still think there are some minor moves to be made. They are moves pertaining to the end of the bench though. The Suns still have too many point guards and need to add another big or two for depth in the frontcourt. That could be done through a trade or by eventually waiving someone and adding an ‘emergency’ big at the league minimum.

Q3 - Has Jones given up too much in his efforts to restructure the roster?

GuarGuar: I’ve seen quite a few people on twitter and other platforms complain about our “bad asset management” this summer. We gutted our team completely and the cost was a couple 2nd rounders and Melton. I understand 2nd rounders have value, but at the same time we needed to completely revamp this roster. We don’t know what other offers were out there for T.J. Warren. We don’t know who else was interested in Josh Jackson.

I thought the Baynes/Jerome trade was great asset management. We gave up a pick in most likely the 26-30 range for #24 this year (Jerome) and one of the best backup centers in the league. I think the Minnesota trade was good asset management too. Trading down from 6 to 11 in a weak draft and getting a quality player like Saric is good. Now, we can argue whether taking Cam Johnson at 11 was bad value, but that’s a different conversation.

So to answer this question, no I don’t think James Jones gave up too much this summer. He got the McDonough stench out of this organization and now we have a completely new team.

Sun-Arc: The cost we paid is arguable. I think what we gave up was the price of doing business and orchestrating such a huge overhaul for a dumpster fire team like the Suns. I am impressed he was able to create so much change, but also feel we are, at the very best, an average team this coming season. From that standpoint, maybe the price was too much or the moves conducted too quickly.

But I’m an impatient fan and overall happy that players like Ariza, Jackson, and Bender were replaced with MUCH better players. Do I think we could have gotten more for TJ? Yeah, I do. But I’m open minded in terms of what plan the team has in mind and whether it can show significant improvement.

SDKyle: No, because nearly nothing we gave up was very good. I understand that the Warren move raised some eyebrows, but it is what it is... TJ being gone was a done deal months ago. Josh Jackson’s departure is addition by subtraction. Melton, meh.

This team needed a serious overhaul, not a timid “let’s wait and see how these terrible young players develop for three years” approach. Good on James Jones for making something happen.

SouthernSun: No, Jones has not given up too much. He got rid of most of the flotsam that was floating around this team, and traded a late 1st and some 2nd rounders to do that, and to get a couple guys he wanted. Did we really want some more guys drafted 28th and 32nd on this team in the next couple years? Haven’t we had enough of that? I don’t mind the sharp turn away from the youth movement at all. Suns needed to get older and smarter, and he did that, while keeping around the youth that mattered and adding a couple of developmental players who won’t be a major part of the rotation until they’re ready. This is the first time in quite awhile that the Suns won’t need to play their rookies if they don’t want to. They have a few actual veterans. Probably not as many as James Jones would like, but a few at least. And the ones the Suns do have are actually still in their prime. Not over the hill and ready to just give up at the first sign of struggle.

Alex Sylvester: Yes and no.

I’ve seen the “asset management” argument being made aplenty and it’s a fair point. When you look at the actual return James Jones is netting in trades (specifically the Warren trade), it’s completely justifiable to say the Suns aren’t getting the bigger end of the deal.

But with that comes the reason why Jones is making these deal in the first place. He’s placing his faith in Devin and Deandre to become the stars they should. And as a fan, I love that.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, SDKyle, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!


2018-19 Season Highlights

San Antonio Spurs vs Phoenix Suns Full Game Highlights | 11.14.2018

TJ Warren Full Highlights 2018.11.14 Suns vs Spurs - 27 Pts!

Deandre Ayton Full Highlights Suns vs Spurs 2018.11.14 - 17 Points, 10 Reb


Video Quote of the Week


Interesting Suns Stuff


News & Notes

What are the Phoenix Suns doing? A look at some of the interesting decisions made by the franchise in recent years. CBS Sports

With Josh Jackson Trade, Phoenix Suns Move On From Ryan McDonough Era. Brendon Kleen/Forbes

Phoenix Suns: 5 expectations for Ricky Rubio. Gerald Bourguet/Hoops Habit

The 5: Most impactful Suns free agent signings since Steve Nash. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports


Suns History in Video

Iconic Dunks...

Plus 1


Suns Trivia

Devin Booker’s 215 points from March 21-30 are the most over a five-game span in Suns history and his 214 points from March 23 - April 1 are next highest followed by his 190 points from March 25 - April 3. Prior to Booker’s stretch, Charlie Scott had the most over a five-game span with 186 (Dec. 13-22, 1973).


Previewing the Weeks (and Months) Ahead

July 5-15 - NBA Summer League (Las Vegas)

  • Tuesday, July 9 - Phoenix vs Memphis - 4:30 pm (AZT) on NBA TV
  • Wednesday, July 10 - Phoenix vs San Antonio - 6:00 pm (AZT) on NBA TV

(Following preliminary play, the top eight teams will be seeded in a tournament culminating with a Championship Game on July 15. Teams that do not qualify for the tournament will each play a consolation game, so every team will play at least five games and as many as seven.)

July 13 - Last day for teams to unilaterally withdraw qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

July 15 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned first-round picks (those players become free agents on July 16 if not tendered).

August 31 - Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2019/20 salaries.

September 5 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks (those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered).

Late September (specific dates TBA) - Training camps open.

October 22 - NBA 2019-20 regular season begins.

October 31 - Last day that teams can exercise team options on the rookie scale contracts of former first-round picks.

December 14 - Suns vs Spurs in Mexico City.


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “How would you grade the Suns’ offseason moves (both in the draft and free agency) so far?”

20% - A

59% - B

17% - C

02% - D

02% - F

There were 492 votes cast.


This week’s poll is...

Poll

The Suns and Kelly Oubre Jr. will reach an agreement on a new contract...

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Sometime this week.
    (333 votes)
  • 25%
    In about a month after some more negotiating.
    (160 votes)
  • 4%
    Right before training camp starts like with Bledsoe.
    (29 votes)
  • 16%
    It won’t happen and he will eventually take the qualifying offer instead.
    (101 votes)
623 votes total Vote Now