Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current 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 - Contract negotiations with Deandre Ayton are reported to be at an impasse as Suns owner Robert Sarver is reluctant to offer DA a full max contract. What are your thoughts on this?
Sun-Arc: I’m not sure we will ever be privy to the true details of what is going on. If it really is Sarver being cheap… damn, what a heartbreaker for fans and me in particular. I really thought Bobby Chickensuit-Goat-Herder had turned the corner into being a reasonable owner that would pay what ever it took to field a contender. I really did. This is painful.
I would like to believe he is not this stupid or cheap, but rather the only hold up is a couple of minor details. And it still could be that. But given Sarver’s history, it doesn’t feel like it.
My thought is that Ayton is very difficult to replace, he has sacrificed to create team success, he is a super gifted two-way player and only getting better… what is not to max there?? Oy veh.
SouthernSun: It will get done. The Suns can’t afford not to. Unless they are exploring possible trades, which I doubt at this point. It does also probably mean that the Suns aren’t enamored with the idea of paying him the full max. They’ll eventually come to an agreement though, I’m sure.
Alex S: I think the overreaction from Tuesday’s news leak was a matter of time and predictable. In reality, the update does nothing to change my perspective on the negotiations between Ayton/Bridges and the team. There was the point brought up that this situation could resemble what occurred with Rudy Gobert and Utah for their extension talks as Rudy implied he wouldn’t take anything less than a max after being offered around 170. He ended up getting the deal a week or so later, which is essentially what I expect to occur with Deandre and Phoenix.
If there isn’t an extension worked out by the 18th? I will be quite concerned then.
Rod: I am not overly concerned about this... yet. There just aren’t enough details out there to know just how far off DA and the Suns are in what Deandre wants and what the Suns are offering. Could it turn out badly? Sure but it could also be resolved any day now with everyone happy with the result. At this point I just find it hard to believe were looking at a potential disaster and am more inclined to think of it as a bump in the road until more facts are known.
Q2 - Which players have impressed you and which have disappointed you so far during the preseason games?
Sun-Arc: I have to admit I was not able to watch the games, so I have little to comment on. What I see from highlights and box scores is that the team is trying out a lot of guys that figure not to play much or at all, but the team should be super solid-to-great this season. Also, Ayton should get the max.
SouthernSun: Landry Shamet and JaVale McGee. Landry has exhibited an ability to create for others as well as himself. That’s something the Suns bench was sorely lacking last season, even with Payne out there. McGee and he seem to have some pretty good chemistry already. They should be extremely fun to watch this season.
Alex S: I’m impressed with the Payne-McGee connection and also impressed with Chris Paul bouncing back so quickly from his offseason injury. It’s hard to not include most the team in this answer but I’ll keep it short and sweet by saying that these two would be my main point of emphasis. I’m certainly intrigued to see how Devin looks when he gets back…the pictures from media day make it seem like he put on a little muscle of late.
Rod: I couldn’t watch either game but found YouTube highlights that covered over half the Lakers game and I must say I didn’t see much I would call disappointing in that one. I couldn’t find any highlights from the Kings game. The team overall looked sharp and played very well against LA! I was most impressed by Landry Shamet because he just seems better than advertised. I saw a more than just a shooter out there and he seemed to blend in well with the team even as Booker’s stand-in with the 1st unit.
The only mildly disappointing thing I noticed was Mikal missing more shots than I though he should have as he went 7-18 (38.9%) against LA and some of those were open shots. That’s a lot more shots than he usually takes in a game though and maybe some of those might have been a little out of his comfort zone as he seemed to be attempting more mid-range shots than in the past. If those start falling regularly, he could turn into another primary offensive weapon for the Suns. Last season he averaged only 9.3 attempts per game.
Jalen Smith I’m still undecided on. I loved all the rebounds he grabbed but still wasn’t too impressed by the rest of his game... which I didn’t really think was bad, just not impressive.
Q3 - Today (Oct. 8) is the 3rd anniversary of former Suns GM Ryan McDonough’s firing. While the timing was questionable, the results aren’t... or are they? Where do you think the Suns would be today if McD was still the GM?
Sun-Arc: The results this team has produced over the past three seasons since Ryan’s firing have been an amalgam of Ryan and James Jones’ leadership. Our most talented three young players, and three of our best four players overall, were drafted by Ryan. But the rest has been completely constructed by Jones.
Jones was able to convince Monty Williams to come here over the Lakers. THAT move alone changed the direction of the team tremendously. But he also brought in smart players that are good people at heart, guys that would buy into a team mentality and work hard every day. That was not the case under Ryan. Gone are the Josh Jacksons, Trever Arizas, Tyson Chandlers, Marquese Chriss’, etc.
Jones and Monty built an actual team, and went from the worst team in the league to the 2nd best (record wise) in three seasons. That’s amazing. I give very little credit to Ryan for this. Almost none.
I shudder to think where the team would be if Ryan would still be in charge. The Suns would probably still be a dysfunctional Frankenstein team, with Booker having already forced a trade out of town.
SouthernSun: I have no idea where the Suns would be if McDonough were still GM, but I feel pretty confident in saying they almost certainly wouldn’t be coming off a NBA Finals appearance. He probably would have kept Josh Jackson and continued trying to make him something. He wouldn’t have traded for Chris Paul. The Suns would have a promising core, but nothing to hold them together. No Monty. No James Jones. No Chris Paul. Thankfully, we live in this reality and not that one.
Alex S: Oh man, this question just triggers bad memories that I for one am thankful will not occur again any time soon. To me, there’s never really an ideal time to get a new GM involved as there’s always going to be obstacles to overcome when you first get into office. Ideally you can fire a GM right after the season every single time but it doesn’t necessarily work out like that. I think we live in quite an alternate universe if Ryan somehow was the GM still. For one, Chris Paul certainly never happens. Monty Williams and obviously James Jones never happens. But most importantly, Booker is in Boston playing alongside Tatum by now.
Jaylen Brown would be our new favorite player and the dialogue would shift to how long he has until he wants out as well? I will say the core of DA/Bridges/Jaylen is very promising but it’s impossible to get excited when the Suns have just missed the playoffs for the 11th year straight.
Rod: Some have rightfully pointed out that McD was the one who drafted/traded for three of our present core players, Book, DA and Bridges, and he deserves credit for that. If you want to point to those successes, you can’t ignore his draft/trade/free agent signing failures though. There are so many that I won’t try to list them all. He also made bad choices in hiring head coaches and didn’t seem to be able to know how to find complementary players to put a good team together.
With all that in mind, I cannot bring myself to believe that the Suns would be any better than a fringe playoff contender right now if he was still our GM. Would he have quickly admitted hiring Igor Kokoskov as head coach was a mistake and then hired Monty Williams to replace him? I don’t think so. Would he have made any of the moves that James Jones has made since then to improve the team? I don’t think so. Would the exciting Bubble run have happened? I don’t think so. I’m not even sure the Suns would have been there. Would CP3 have even considered playing for Phoenix if none of what Jones accomplished hadn’t happened? No. Just plain no.
All in all, I think the Suns would only be a little better than they were in 2018-19 and still paying a lot more attention to who the top draft prospects are than possible playoff matchups when the end of a season draws near.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week! (GuarGuar did not participate this week.)
Interesting Suns Stuff
Phoenix Suns will RUN the WEST Next Season
Deandre Ayton will probably get the ‘fun max’ – Brian Windhorst | The Jump
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “How many points per game do you think Deandre Ayton will average this season?”
00% - Below 14.
10% - 14-16.
74% - 16-20.
16% - 20+.
A total of 120 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Deandre Ayton and the Suns...
This poll is closed
Will come to an agreement on a contract extension before the Oct. 18 deadline.
Will NOT come to an agreement on a contract extension before the Oct. 18 deadline.