Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
First up... the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders who give their takes on the Suns latest issues and news.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Your thoughts on Deandre Ayton not signing a contract extension?
GuarGuar: I am not that surprised to be quite honest. There were rumors last offseason we looked at dealing DA. He wanted a 5 year max and has yet to put together a full season of excellent play. He had a phenomenal playoffs but has yet to show consistency.
I really think we are holding out for one of Zion/KAT to become available. Keeping DA on his current deal for the time being allows for more flexibility.
Sun-Arc: I think it is a huge mistake to not offer Ayton the max and to get it done before the deadline. I understand the arguments pointing to the risks of giving him the max after such limited proof, and also potential rewards of forcing him to earn it this season. To me those are overshadowed by the risks of alienating a star player that was a HUGE reason we made it to the finals, and also future financial risks. Ayton was the second or third best center in the entire playoff field (Embiid and arguably Jokic from a stats point of view). He earned the max, IMO.
The two biggest reasons I think this was an enormous mistake are as follows:
- Destruction of team culture & Ayton’s attitude towards the organization can dismantle the good will built up over the past two seasons under Jones/Monty, and how this may lead to Ayton walking to another team with no benefits to the Suns. This is particularly acute if he takes a qualifying offer next summer, and leaves the following summer as an unrestricted free agent, which I think is possible. In the meantime, if he’s really angry, this really could mess with team culture and on-court play this season and next, derailing our CP3 years for title contention. There is no center in the league that fits this team as well as Ayton that is acquirable. (The discussion of KAT on this team is not a good fit at all, IMO. And that is the end of the “realistic” list of good centers we could get.)
- WHEN (not a question of if to me right now based on the playoffs) Ayton shows he deserves the max this season, he will end up costing more overall trough the length of a contract giving next season than if we gave him a max deal now. Even if it is as the same max he is eligible for this season- because the cap will be higher. This will make signing other players even harder each year, making keeping this core together more difficult each year. This hurts the team.
And we have the possibility that both of these come to pass in some form too. He could be disgruntled, test RFA, sign with another team that gives him a player option in the fourth year, and then leaves early from the Suns. There is a great description of this here.
SouthernSun: I don’t think it’s as huge a deal as many seem to. He’s still going to be a restricted free agent. The Suns still can keep him if they want. But by not trading him, they still have the opportunity to easily include him in a trade if the right offer comes along. Not giving him the max doesn’t set anything in stone.
Alex S: I’m okay with how the Suns are handling the DA situation because I trust James Jones. The outcry from fans with the updates pouring in were quite loud and understandably so considering the history of Robert Sarver and this organization, however the Suns just shelled out over 250 mil in contracts this off-season. You think they’re being cheap?
No, just paying a big max money in this league is complicated. Ayton should eventually earn his max but he’s an RFA so go out and get it big fella!
Rod: I wasn’t happy that no extension was agreed to but, if it was a choice between a 5-year, designated rookie max deal or nothing, I can understand the choice James Jones made. Teams can only have 2 players on designated max deals, either rookie or vet designated max deals. Ayton could prove he’s worth that big of an investment this season but I’m not 100% sold that he deserves it right now. I wouldn’t hesitate to give him a 4-year max contract though.
Is not giving him what he obviously wanted a dangerous path to take? There’s some danger to it but I have my doubts as to how much damage has been done. I’ve heard all the doomsday scenarios other people have spun but I don’t think any irreparable damage has been done... yet.
Q2 - Your thoughts on Mikal Bridges’ contract extension?
GuarGuar: Very happy to see Mikal stay. It’s a team friendly deal. He can play into a max player so it’s better for us to extend him now. He’s a very key piece to our success and I’m excited to watch him continue to grow.
Sun-Arc: I think this agreement is fair for both sides. Particularly if Bridges takes another leap this season like he did in the last one. Then it is really fair, or possibly quite favorable, to the team. Right now it looks like the a very, very slight overpay. But I believe he will continue to grow into an even more important part of the team, making this contract look quite wise for the team. The long-term value to Mikal seems obvious. Though he will be 30 when this contract is complete, and another very lucrative contract may be harder to come by at that time. But… $90 million is nothing to sneeze at, particularly on top of the ~$15.5m he will have earned before the new contract starts. Ultimately I love Bridges and am really happy we hopefully have him here for five more years.
SouthernSun: I thought it was just about fair value. If he doesn’t improve anymore, it’s probably a little high. However, I believe he will, and that the contract will look like a good cost control move in a couple years.
Alex S: Love it. Short and sweet, I was expecting 100 mil so getting him for 90 was a great deal IMO. He was the more important piece to lock in early because if he played amazing this season, his value was only going to go up.
Rod: Mikal’s deal seems to be an extremely fair one both for him and the Suns. It may even turn into a high value contract for the Suns if Bridges continues to expend his offensive repertoire. Even if he doesn’t, having a versatile, top-notch defender who also happens to be an NBA iron man (Mikal has played in every game as a Sun) locked up for the next 4 years is a very big plus for Phoenix.
Q3 - Your thoughts on Landry Shamet’s contract extension?
GuarGuar: Clearly the front office is very high on Landry. They wanted him for 2 years and signed him to a long term deal. Hopefully it doesn’t turn into a situation like Kennard and the Clippers. I don’t think it will.
Sun-Arc: I was shocked at first; both because it came before an announcement on Ayton, and for the amount. Way more than Payne was paid, for instance. They must have a lot of belief in him to go to this length. When I found out the last two years were not guaranteed, it made more sense. If he fails to live up to what the team seemingly sees as a very high value, his contract is not an albatross. If he really plays well, it is a fair contract - or even a friendly one.
SouthernSun: I love it. It’s perfect. I think Shamet will be featured heavily this season, perhaps playing nearly as many minutes as Payne. They’ll probably run 3 guard lineups fairly often. He’s not small so he’s not too much of a liability in those lineups. The Suns don’t have very many playmaker/shot creators, and Shamet is a decent one. Also, obviously the third and fourth years not being guaranteed is nice. Along with that, it’s a nice team friendly contract that might fit nicely in any trades down the line. The Suns really didn’t have many of those.
Alex S: I like it but this is the most risky signing of the two extensions. I do believe he’ll live up to the contract and he’s off to a great start but he’s going to need to show his worth early on to solidify his position with the team in the eyes of Suns fans. That being said, his skill set will always be valuable to a winning team.
Rod: My first thought was it was an overpay... but then I found out only the first two years were guaranteed and felt much better about it. Shamet is the player the Suns have needed for a long time, a really good backup for Booker. Think about it. Who have the Suns had to backup Book in previous seasons? Langston Galloway, Jamal Crawford and Troy Daniels were probably the best of Book’s backups since he came into the NBA. Shamet looks like he’s good enough that Monty will be able to give Devin more than just minimal rest during games which benefits everyone.
Even if you think of his contract as a bit of an overpay, it’s probably worth it rather than waiting until he’s a restricted free agent and hoping you don’t have to match a possibly even bigger number to keep him... or let him go to another team and get nothing in return.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!
Interesting Suns Stuff
Suns GM James Jones Speaks On Not Extending Deandre Ayton and MORE Suns News
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “The Suns’ 3-1 performance in preseason is...”
61% - A preview of how good they will be in the regular season.
39% - Not relevant. Preseason wins are fool’s gold.
A total of 180 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Deandre Ayton’s relationship with the Suns is...
This poll is closed
Possibly damaged beyond repair.
Strained but not irreparable.