Today the Phoenix Suns announced that star guard Devin Booker will be reevaluated in four weeks with a left groin strain.
INJURY UPDATE: Further evaluation has confirmed that Devin Booker has sustained a left groin strain. He will be re-evaluated in four weeks.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 28, 2022
The news is obviously brutal on many levels, especially when considering the string of injuries the Suns are already dealing with. This news does not mean it’s time to fold, it’s quite the opposite in a Western Conference that is uninspiring from top to bottom.
The Injuries have been cruel
Phoenix has arguably been the most impacted team by injuries this season, which are honors no team is happy to claim the rights to.
The key players missing time combined with Jae Crowder deciding to sit at home have led them to the top spot in VORP lost to injuries. That statistic does NOT include Crowder’s missed time either, since it is not due to injury.
- Jae Crowder (35)*
- Cam Johnson (27)
- Chris Paul (14)
- Landry Shamet (10)
- Cam Payne (9)
- Devin Booker (6)
- Deandre Ayton (4)
The worst part about this is that the Booker and Johnson totals figure to keep on stacking up as they collectively miss at least the next couple of weeks during a tough stretch.
Time for reinforcements
I’ve seen some fans suggest the team should rest up and get ready for next season. That’s blasphemous chatter.
The Western Conference is still WIDE OPEN, and that isn’t changing any time soon. Playoff seeding truly doesn’t matter in this day and age. Yes, home-court advantage is nice to have, but health and peaking at the right time are far more important... and that’s something Phoenix still has a chance to do.
James Jones and Suns fans alike understand how difficult it is to put yourself in a position to win a championship. A lot has to go right, and at this moment it feels like everything is going wrong, but this season is far from lost.
It’s time to get aggressive. Improve the roster with additions that help you now and when Booker, Johnson, and others return.
This will not be a deep dive regarding fit, player scouting reports, or anything otherwise. I’ll simply list (in order of preference) my favorite trade targets that are realistic for the Suns.
Siakam and DeRozan are the least likely, and everyone underneath them has a fairly solid chance of being dealt ahead of the deadline.
- Pascal Siakam- F, Raptors
- DeMar DeRozan- G/W, Bulls
- Kyle Kuzma- F, Wizards
- Bojan Bogdanovic- F, Pistons
- Malik Beasley- G, Jazz
- Jordan Clarkson- G, Jazz
- Eric Gordon- G, Rockets
- Jarred Vanderbilt- F, Jazz
- KJ Martin, F, Rockets
- Deni Avdija- F, Wizards
- PJ Washington- F/C, Hornets
- Rui Hachimura- F/C, Wizards
This market is fairly dry in terms of names that fit this second bill, but the Vandy and Martin fits intrigue me a lot. Phoenix has been tied to Vanderbilt time and time again, and if they could add him ALONG with a player above to boost the offensive output, that’s a best-case scenario.
KJ Martin is also a name that makes sense and Phoenix has been tied to him multiple times as well, though I’ve soured on any pairing of him and Eric Gordon.
Trade future picks if you need to for the top-tier talent or if you’re able to kill two birds with one stone in terms of needs.
The expiring contracts in Crowder and Saric are easy sells to rebuilding teams. Shamet has a reasonable contract as well. Cam Johnson should mostly be off-limits in any non-needle-moving trade, but if it’s a move that can elevate the team then you do it.
The same goes for Ayton if a star becomes available, but it has to be a specific fit that makes sense this season and beyond, and there aren’t too many of those outside of Durant (unlikely) and Siakam.
The main goal is this: acquire two playoff rotation pieces that fit your team needs and give you a boost in the short term.
The next month of Phoenix Suns basketball can be described with one word: survival.
Stay in the hunt, add firepower, and get healthy. It’s not time to tuck your tail between your legs.