Chaos always reigns in the NBA offseason and the Phoenix Suns are no exception. Over the past decade, the Suns roster has turned over at an alarming rate, conditioning Suns fans to salivate at the thought of a juicy ribeye while knowing full well we’d end up with mom’s pantry surprise casserole.
Here we are again. Mere weeks from the 2020 NBA Draft, followed quickly by free agency and trade season. Latest rumor has free agency starting right after Thanksgiving.
Surely, it’s time for another upheaval. As usual, Booker is the only untouchable. The other 14 guys are fair game in the right proposal.
Some of you want to run it back, but, as exciting as that sounds, reality tells us that 45% of the average NBA team’s roster (7 of the 15 guys) will be new on opening night. But the Suns are even more of a turnover machine than the usual NBA team.
- Summer 2013: 11 out of 15 players changed, 73% turnover
- Summer 2014: 8 of 15, 53%
- Summer 2015: 8 of 15, 53%
- Summer 2016: 7 of 15, 47%
- Summer 2017: 6 of 15, 40%
- Summer 2018: 8 of 15, 53%
- Summer 2019: 9 of 15, 60%
Overall, that’s a seven-year average turnover of 8 players each summer. More than 50% of the roster! Every year.
Could this year be on the low end, though? With this incredibly shortened free agency coming up, combined with a shortage of cash in owners’ pockets, we might not see many big deals handed out. But even on the low end that’s still 6 players gone by hook or by crook.
Here’s the Suns roster, in order of salary next season.
Which six to eight players will change over this offseason? We pretty much have no idea beyond Elie Okobo do we?
One player getting a lot of attention lately is Kelly Oubre Jr. and his $14.35 million contract for 2020-21 with free agency after a year. That scuttlebutt is partially because he only has one year left on his contract, and partially because the Suns went 8-0 without him in the Bubble.
But what kind of player would the Suns want to replace Oubre and his $14 million with? That would need to be a player who fits best around the back court of Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker with Deandre Ayton in the middle.
That would be a guy who can start at swing forward. One who can play big in a small lineup or small in a big one. One who can switch defensively onto just about any size opponent and hold his own. One who shoots, drives, blocks shots, defends, steals, rebounds, and sets the city on fire w/his infectious attitude.
That sure sounds like Kelly Oubre Jr., doesn’t it?
Oubre is already one of the Suns best players. In 2019-20, his first full season with the team, Oubre was 2nd or third in on the team in seven different categories: 18.7 Pts/g (2nd), 6.4 Reb/g (2nd), 1.3 Stl/g (3rd), 0.7 Blk/g (2nd), 4.4 FTA/g (2nd), 3PA/g (2nd), 34.5 Min/g (2nd). And he did his best work next to that big trio and fellow swing forward Mikal Bridges. Those five formed one of the league’s best lineups, outscoring opponents by 20 points per 100 possessions.
It’s easy to forget his contributions I guess. He missed the Bubble due to injury rehab, but when he plays its balls-out, maximum effort to get the most out of his 6’7” frame with a 7’2” wingspan.
And he never stops working to improve. Here he is working out at the Madhouse on McDowell his past week, getting himself ready for the 2020-21 season, practicing his shooting with the famous shot doctor Drew Hanlen.
Maybe the versatile, lovable guy we need for Oubre’s $14 million next year is already on the roster and he goes by T$unami Papi.
And maybe we should just see how the season plays out and deal with his free agency NEXT summer.