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Center of the Sun: Will Suns basketball return in December or January?

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The NBA and the NBPA are still searching for an answer that will hopefully satisfy everyone.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Well, the deadline to complete discussions on modifications to the CBA (Oct. 30) for 2020-21 season, set the salary cap numbers and determine a starting date has come and gone. All that was agreed to publicly was to delay the deadline that would allow either side to terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement back at least another week.

Things are not going as well as we fans had hoped.

The NBA’s latest plan was to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, play a 72-game season, be done before the Olympics and hopefully get things back to normal (or near normal) for 2021-22. Many of the players don’t seem too happy with starting back in December and prefer a Jan. 18 (MLK Day) start to the season. Even Adam Silver and the NBA were originally in favor of the MLK Day start until they realized how much cash they would be leaving on the table by foregoing the now traditional Christmas Day games.

Starting in January instead of December could cost the league between $500 million and $1 billion in addition to the losses they were already expecting by having to play in empty or mostly empty arenas. It also wouldn’t allow the NBA playoffs to end before the beginning of the Olympics if they play a 72-game season. To avoid that conflict, the NBA reportedly wants only a 50-game season if the start is pushed back to mid-January and the players aren’t happy with that idea.

Why the drop from 72 to just 50 games if the starting date is moved back less than one month? They certainly weren’t planning on trying to squeeze 22 games into that period. Although no one has said so, I assume that the owners want to further minimize their losses by playing as few games as possible in empty arenas.

What it all means to fans is that pretty much everything is still up in the air for the time being. At least we know that the NBA will likely be playing again no later than mid-January. I say “likely” because there is still the possibility that further problems could be encountered that might again push opening night even further back.

At least the draft date is set and in just over two weeks we will find out who the Suns will select. Sometime between now and then the NBA should also lift the moratorium on transactions and we’ll likely see some some player and/or pick trades take place. Once an agreement is reached and all the dates are set, expect a flood of front office activity around the league. Even if the start is pushed back to January, there will still be relatively little time to accomplish a lot.


Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - As Dave King wrote the other day, the NBA is considering a 72-game schedule for 2020-21 in which teams play only within their own conference AND with almost half (44.4%) of those games would be against division rivals (Lakers, Clippers, Warriors & Kings for the Suns). Do you think they might actually do this and what’s your opinion of the idea?

GuarGuar: It sounds like the league wants to start right before Christmas and the players association wants to start mid-January. It’s understandable why the league wants to start in December as Christmas Day is a big source of NBA revenue. Also certain teams like Atlanta haven’t played since early March. The only two teams with a distinct disadvantage if we start in December are the Lakers and Heat. Even then though both of those teams had a long layoff from March-July earlier this year. Clearly the NBA wants it’s season to be over before the Olympics. It’s unfortunate the Suns are in such a stacked division. I would hope we still play East teams 2x a year. Hopefully we get some clarity soon.

Sun-Arc: I don’t know IF they’ll do that, but I know I don’t want them to do it. I thought Rod’s idea made more sense. The West will be tough anyway - and I think we might just be the 3rd best team in our Division next season in terms of toughest to win against, so maybe it doesn’t matter a ton. But I’d still rather spread it out a bit more than what has been talked about.

SDKyle: It’s certainly possible they’ll do it. I don’t like it. I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to sports. I don’t like changing the length of a season. I don’t like major rule changes. I think significantly shortening the season and then having 6 or 7 games against certain teams just sorta changes the calculus to a degree that annoys me.

It wouldn’t be great for the Suns to have to play the Lakers and Clippers and revived Warriors a combined 21 times or whatever.

There’s an argument to be made for it, and I get that. Maybe I’m just being cantankerous.

SouthernSun: I really hope they don’t do it. I have no idea whether they will or not. It makes sense for covid reasons, but man... that does not at all sound like a recipe for success for the Suns. Playing like 30 games against the Lakers, Clippers, and a healthy Warriors team? No thank you.

Alex S: That would certainly not favor the Suns and I absolutely hope this isn’t the case. I can’t see there being agreement across the board on this, especially when it comes to western conference owners because this would create a lack of balance in terms of strength of schedule. From a statistical standpoint it would but if you watch all the teams across the league, you’ll know which teams are good and which aren’t. I’d rather the league cut the season even shorter and do the proper travel/schedule even if it’s 60 games.

Q2 - Jerami Grant or Christian Wood? If the Suns could just pick one of these two to sign for the same amount of money - and be guaranteed to get him - which would you choose and why?

GuarGuar: I’d definitely take Christian Wood over Grant. Wood has flashed a much higher upside to this point, and can play backup C minutes. My concern if we signed Wood would be that he starts at power forward. I want Wood to be our backup center and play spot power forward minutes at times. Wood is familiar with Booker and some of our players as he played for our summer league team a few years back.

Sun-Arc: For me, Jerami Grant. Its simple: he’s a full-on two-way player and Wood isn’t. Sure, Christian can block shots, but he gets pushed around by a lot of players. I’m not saying he can’t defend- just that it isn’t very effective against opposing bigs.

Jerami is a very versatile defender (even played small ball 5 successfully) and is a good shooter. I don’t buy that he can’t rebound- he can, but was tasked with transition defense first. We need more 3&D players around Book and Ayton, and Jerami is one.

Lastly, I would say that, for the money they are said to command, I’d rather than player is a starter. Wood wouldn’t not start and Jerami would.

SDKyle: I guess I’d go with Grant. He’s a little smaller and his numbers last season weren’t quite as good as Wood’s, but unlike Wood there’s not the same question about whether he was having a random career year he won’t manage to replicate. Grant is also coming from a great winning culture in Denver that I’d love to see him help solidify as the Suns look to take the “next step” this season.

It’s a close call. I think the Suns would be fortunate to acquire either guy.

SouthernSun: Christian Wood. I believe he has higher upside than Grant. Grant is probably safer, but he just doesn’t “wow” me. There doesn’t seem to be a chance of him ever being a star. Wood, on the other hand, has star potential. And he can actually rebound, something the Suns need help with, and something Grant seems physically or mentally incapable of doing well. I also think Wood is safe enough that even if he doesn’t pan out like we want him to, he will at least be serviceable.

Also, I highly doubt the Nuggets let Grant walk. Whereas Detroit's only path to keeping Wood is to overpay him significantly right as they enter a rebuild, which i doubt they want to do.

Alex S: Jerami Grant – He’s got a more consistent improvement window (from 2017 until now) and his three point shooting is legitimate (last two seasons at ~39%). His athleticism paired with Deandre would be forceful inside and I don’t stress about his rebounding numbers. Other parts of his game to like are the limited TO’s, the FT% at 75, and the postseason experience.

I don’t see a world where both go for the same price unfortunately. But for me, this would be a no-brainer.

Q3 - There are questions about whether the Suns will attempt to retain Baynes (UFA), Saric (RFA), Carter (RFA) and Payne (non-guaranteed) this season. Rank them from (in your opinion) most likely to be retained to least likely.

GuarGuar: The most likely to be retained is Carter. He is such an energy booster and provides much needed perimeter defense.

The second most likely is Saric. He really gelled in with the group during the Bubble and was a key piece to our success. If he’s happy coming off the bench I think we try to keep him.

Next is Payne. He showed how good of a team we can be when we have a backup PG who can create his own offense. If he plays like he did in the summer I think we absolutely keep him on.

Last is Baynes. The injury history this past season is a concern. I think Baynes was a vital lockerroom piece this year, and he definitely helped DA’s development. I just think he might be too expensive for the type of season long production we’d get from him. I’m not at all against bringing him back though.

Sun-Arc: That’s a tough order to come up with. So much of it depends on the draft. But, tossing the draft aside and seeing as how my decision here has no affect on reality…

Saric (I think they value him, particularly with what we saw from the bubble. I’ve made no secret of my desire to have him help run the bench squad and be a fill-in for an injured Ayton.)

Carter (Likely will try to keep him to come off the bench for specific defensive assignments.)

Payne (So much depends on the draft and free agency, but they could keep him even as an inexpensive way to fill out the roster minimum.)

Baynes (I really want him to stay, but I think he’ll command more elsewhere, and/or with his injury history they may not want to spend the money to keep him.)

SDKyle: Saric, Carter, Payne, Baynes.

I have no particularly good basis for this ranking, I admit. This is me shooting from the hip and guessing that Baynes is probably just not that likely to be back.

I don’t personally love Saric but he’s got skills not a lot of guys with true PF size have, and he’s in his prime. Maybe that makes him a little more appealing to keep around.

And call me crazy but I’m a fan of Carter. He’s not a starting PG or even a really high level backup PG, but he’s a good bench guard to have because he shoots and defends and works hard.

SouthernSun: Payne - He’s the most likely because he’s already under contract with a team option. So he’s super cheap. And he performed well in the bubble.

Carter - He’s the next most likely to come back because he will also be super cheap. And the Suns have so little talent off the bench in the backcourt.

Saric - If the Suns don’t go after a starting caliber big in FA then I believe they’ll hold onto Saric. If they do, he’s probably out of here.

Baynes - The only way I see the Suns bringing back Baynes is if they enter free agency over the cap. Then they can re-sign all these guys, including Baynes, and then have access to the MLE and BAE. But that’s a lot of money to spend on a not sure thing team, so I doubt the Suns go this route.

Alex S: 1) Carter – Lack of guard depth and he proved his worth all season. Great fit with the roster.

2) Payne – Played tremendous in the bubble and his contract is cheap.

3) Saric – RFA ability and he stepped up big time in the bubble. Lack of depth at backup big as well.

4) Baynes – Most likely will go to immediate contender (Clippers/Lakers/Celtics all come to mind).

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


2019-20 Season Highlights

Ricky Rubio Best Assists

Deandre Ayton Bubble Highlights

Mikal Bridges Turns Defense Into Offense

Jevon Carter Defensive Highlights


Quotes of the Week

“He can read the games before it’s happening so you’re a step ahead if you’re listening to him.” - Devin Booker on Ricky Rubio

“Me and JC... I don’t know what kind of bond it is but like it’s magical.” - Cameron Payne on playing beside Jevon Carter in the Orlando bubble


News & Notes

Ranking the new NBA City Jersey leaks from best (Suns) to worst (Knicks). For The Win

Devin Booker’s superstar coming out party in the bubble for the Phoenix Suns. Sporting News

Stephon Marbury Addresses Amare Stoudemire—Steve Nash Nets Coach Hire. Heavy.com

Empire of the Suns’ 5×5 NBA Draft Preview: Wings in the running. Arizona Sports

Deandre Ayton reveals bold goal for 2020-21 after bubble success. Clutch Points

Suns’ Cam Johnson previews Talking Stick Resort Arena renovations. Arizona Sports

Kendall Jenner Throws Big Party For Devin Booker’s 24th Birthday. Fadeaway World

Consensus Mock Draft: In first look after Lottery, Edwards seems like lock at No. 1. NBA.com


Draft Prospect Videos

LaMelo Ball: A Scouting Report | 2020 NBA Draft | The Ringer

Five Promising Mid-Major Prospects In The 2020 NBA Draft That You Don’t Know?!?!


This Week in Suns History

On November 2, 1990, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Utah Jazz 119-96 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Japan in the first regular season game played outside North America by any major professional sports league.

On November 7, 1992, the Suns celebrated their 30th Anniversary season by moving into the America West Arena (now TSRA).


Interesting Suns stuff

“Breakthrough” Episode 4 : Suns Backcourt

Realistic & Alternative Targets For The Phoenix Suns | NBA 2020 Offseason


Suns Trivia

Since joining the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1968, the Suns have had a total of 6 General Managers (7 if you include Trevor Bukstein during his one season stint as James Jones’ co-GM in 2018-19). The Suns’ first GM, Jerry Colangelo, was their General Manager for 27 seasons, two more than all other Suns’ GMs combined.


Important Future Dates*

November 6 - New deadline to complete discussions on modifications to the CBA for 2020-21 season.

  • Author’s Note: The NBA will not lift the moratorium on transactions until the above is completed.

November 18 - NBA Draft.

??? - Free agency begins.

??? - Moratorium ends.

December or January 1 (ish) - Possible opening day(s) for training camps.

December 22/January 18 - Possible dates for 2020-21 season opening night.

* Author’s Note: All dates except the Draft date and possible opening night date are my own approximations based upon the previous tentative schedule supplied by the NBA and/or recent information from various sources. All of these dates are still subject to change.


Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “The 2020-21 season will likely be shortened to 70-72 games. Do you think the NBA should consider shortening future regular seasons to 70-72 games?”

54% - Yes.

46% - No.

A total of 197 votes were cast.


This week’s polls are...

That’s right, there are 2 polls this week both giving you the chance to voice your opinion on two of the Fantable questions.

Poll

If the price was the same, which player would you prefer the Suns sign in free agency?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Jerami Grant
    (68 votes)
  • 49%
    Christian Wood
    (67 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which of the following 4 players do you think the Suns are most likely to retain for the 2020-21 season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Aron Baynes (UFA)
    (1 vote)
  • 31%
    Dario Saric (RFA)
    (48 votes)
  • 39%
    Jevon Carter (RFA)
    (61 votes)
  • 28%
    Cameron Payne (non-guaranteed)
    (43 votes)
153 votes total Vote Now