Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Once again, we’ll start off this edition of with a look at the current Western Conference standings and playoff probabilities.
Graphic courtesy of PlayoffStatus.com.
And now, on to 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 - At the All-Star break the Suns will have played 58 games. What’s your best guess at what their record will be at the break?
Author’s Note - This question was asked before the Suns/Hawks game was played.
GuarGuar: I’m hoping this doesn’t look silly by the time the article is published but I think we will be on a massive win streak heading into the All-Star break. I think these guys want to break their own franchise record. I have us at 49-9. The game I’m most concerned we will lose is against Milwaukee.
Sun-Arc: I think the Suns will end up with 2 more loses in that time (the next 9 games, so 7-2), particularly if we do not get Ayton, Crowder, Payne, and Shamet back for the first 5 or 6.
My guess is we lose on Thursday to the Hawks (game 2 of the 9), who are hot.
Could be likely we also lose to Phily (game 5 of 9), playing on the road. Embiid is playing great and refs are giving him ALL the free throw attempts he can handle.
Alternatively, we might lose to the Bucks (game 6) at home or even WAS (game 3) on the road. But I think those are both wins.
If we have all our players back for all those, we probably only lose 1, and my guess would be Philly.
I expect them to pretty much keep up the same rate they have so far. No reason to doubt them until they give us reason to, you know? Ayton isn’t quite himself yet and Payne is out, but I expect them to continue rolling along.
Alex S: 48-10. Golden State is still applying pressure on the one seed and the Suns are starting to get a bit healthier. I do think they’ll drop at least 1 game on the road trip here.
Rod: As much as I would like to say 49-9, I don’t think that’s realistic. They’ve been playing shorthanded and winning but I don’t think that can last, especially with their top two backup guards (Payne and Shamet) out. CP3 looks indestructible right now but I think all the extra minutes he’s been playing lately will eventually catch up with him. We’re also less than a week away from the trade deadline which could leave the Suns even more shorthanded for a game or two if they make a trade.
48-10 is realistic but I’m going to say 47-11. The back-to-back road games against Chicago (32-18) and Philadelphia (31-20) next week are worrisome and the Suns’ first game this season against the Bucks (32-21) falls on trade deadline day.
Q2 - Which do you consider most likely to be the best way for the Suns to add talent to their roster, through trades or the buyout market?
GuarGuar: I think at this point is has to be in the trade market. We need another backup guard who will be playable and able to contribute in a playoff atmosphere. Payne and especially Shamet have been very suspect this year.
Sun-Arc: Through trade, the team could remove financial burden by moving on from Saric. Biyombo nor McGee are not the shooter or facilitator Dario is, but he is set to make $10m next season - money that may be better spent elsewhere. I really love Dario as a person and he seems to be a great teammate, but I can certainly see where it may make sense to trade him for the right player (Thad Young, for instance). I mention Young because his expiring $14m may really help the team long term over paying Saric next season.
And if you think about bringing in Thad on a buyout, which seems possible (though may be not probable) at this point, the team could use the disabled player exception on Saric if we think he will not make it back this season, which helps in the short term. And Thad may be the better, more versatile fit this season anyway.
My fear about waiting on the buyout market for a player like Thad is we lose out on him, whereas a trade of Saric & Smith is potentially more of a sure-thing for the team to win-now.
Since I feel like this is the season to go all-in, I’d do the trade.
SouthernSun: Trades for sure. If you can get Eric Gordon for one 1st round pick, get him. I wouldn’t make a splash for a starter or multiple players replacing others in the rotation, but just changing from having Payne and Shamet as backup guards to giving most all backup guard minutes to Gordon seems like a move that would do nothing but improve the team. Maybe snag Torrey Craig for a 2nd rounder and have him replace Ish Wainright minutes.
Alex S: Trade. You have a plethora of picks to choose from and a couple expendable bench pieces if you really want to upgrade the bench, especially at g/f. I do believe James Jones will make a trade for improved guard depth, although I still really want to get Torrey Craig back on this roster.
Rod: It’s possible that they do both this year (or neither!). I’m hearing more and more that the Suns are trying to move Saric’s contract so it’s very possible he and others could be on the move soon. The buyout market is a little more iffy in that there are no guarantees that the player(s) you want to sign will want to sign with you but I think that many, if not most, players would jump at the chance to play in Phoenix right now if they’re bought out and looking for a rest of the season landing spot.
I do believe that the buyout market is the most likely way for the Suns to get a solid contributor though. Dario’s contract plus Stix just isn’t likely to get much in return and you have to find some team willing to make that trade which I don’t think is going to be that easy.
Q3 - A number of fans were critical of the Suns giving CP3 a 4-year $120 mil contract (only partially guaranteed for $75 mil though) during the offseason. What are your thoughts on that contract now?
GuarGuar: I think the overreaction during the summer wasn’t justified because people didn’t realize it was a partially guaranteed contract. CP has not looked washed this year at all. He’s looked better than last year even. So given we should have at least another season of solid CP3, that contract looks just fine for our star point guard.
Sun-Arc: I was one of the people skeptical of the CP trade. I was wrong to be. He’s been even better than I could have possibly expected. When I learned about his extension, I was really happy. I thought it represented a very fair deal for both sides, particularly considering the non-guaranteed safety valves the team put in the deal. If CP3 keeps playing at this level, we have him for longer. If he does not, we can move on from him in year 3 of the deal by trading his expiring contract to a team that needs to clear cap space.
SouthernSun: I wasn’t skeptical of it at all. Pay that man his money. He took a team that didn’t make the playoffs the year before to the Finals, the year after taking a team that was supposed to be terrible (OKC) to a mid playoff seed. His impact is undeniable. Plus, anyone who follows David (@theIVpointplay) on Twitter had a good feeling for what they were going to do, and when it was announced, knew that it probably wouldn’t be fully guaranteed. They were never going to give him a fully guaranteed deal for more than a couple years. Though honestly I probably would have been okay with 3 fully guaranteed years.
Now I’m even less skeptical of it. He’s been phenomenal. Couldn’t be happier with him. Very pleased he’s on the Suns and will be for another couple years.
Alex S: I never disliked the contract. I thought the options were what made the contract incredibly well thought out and a win-win for CP3 and the Suns. I still question whether Chris will make it the full four years but that’s a year to year case!
Rod: After seeing how well CP3 is playing this season, my only real concern with his new contract is how it might influence Sarver in paying up to keep other players in the near future. He has payed the luxury tax in the past but that was back before the repeater tax rules were in place which could add up to a LOT of money if the team is in tax territory for multiple years. As much as I want to see the Suns win the championship, I also fear that might trigger a “mission accomplished” attitude in Sarver which could prompt him into penny-pinching mode soon afterward.
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
We Will NEVER See What Chris Paul Is Doing Again.. | 2022 Phoenix Suns NBA News
CP3’s Game-Changing Impact On The Phoenix Suns | NBA Exclusive
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Which team would you least want the Suns playing in the 1st round of the playoffs?”
10% - Minnesota Timberwolves.
33% - LA Lakers.
52% - LA Clippers.
05% - Portland Trail Blazers.
A total of 593 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Does Sarver’s willingness to pay the luxury tax in the future worry you?
This poll is closed