Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
As usual, we begin with 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 - As a Suns fan, which of the following two scenarios would you consider to be the worse outcome for the Suns?
- Scenario 1: The Suns retain DA at a 4 year max deal (either by signing him outright or matching an offer sheet) and keep him for the whole contract, but what we have seen from him currently is his ultimate ceiling offensively.
- Scenario 2: DA leaves this summer and develops offensively to be comparable to Embid/Giannis/Jokic for the next decade.
GuarGuar: Scenario 2 is definitely much worse in my opinion. If he leaves and becomes an All-NBA center that would be devastating. At his current level DA is a borderline top 5 center. He’s definitely worth a max contract in todays NBA. It might not be enough to win the title but we for sure can compete with him at this level.
SouthernSun: I can’t really answer this question without knowing what the Suns get for him in Scenario 2. If they get back, say, Kevin Durant, then Scenario 2 all day. If its Jakob Poeltl or however you spell his name, probably Scenario 1 despite how much I hate it. If its OG Anunoby like currently somewhat rumored, then I have no idea. Probably Scenario 2? Because at least we would hopefully be getting what we’re paying for in Scenario 2. In scenario 1 we’re paying max money to player that really doesn’t deserve it, and limiting the Suns ability to pay someone who does.
Alex S: Option 2 seems to be a much worse scenario. That being said, there is the theory of max deal centers not being able to win championships so there’s also high potential for option 1 to be quite bad as well.
That being said, DA at his current level is still a top level talent/player in this league and it’s be far from terrible to keep him long term.
OldAz: To me, these are the absolute worst-case scenarios for the polarized views on DA and reality is going to be somewhere in between. That said, Scenario 2 is the worst of the 2 by a large margin in my opinion. Scenario 1 still has a core of Book, DA and Mikal for the next 4 years and we have seen that group play pretty good basketball, get better as a group, play great defense, and compete for a title when surrounded by the right other pieces. The problem in this scenario is that “current version” DA at $34M+ kills the Suns ability to add those other players that might be needed to get over the top. However, as a Suns fan, we have a few eras of “almost” winning a title that were both memorable and enjoyable. That's part of being a Suns fan I enjoy, even if it has not included a title to this point. Scenario 2, however, is like all the past “what if’s” that a Suns fan is all too familiar with, rolled up into one, and blown up on steroids:
- What if that coin flipped on more time and Kareem was a Sun?
- What if Danny Manning doesn’t blow out his knee in practice?
- What if Danny “No Three’s” Ainge listens to his own coaching and doesn’t leave Paxon wide open?
- What if Joe Johnson doesn’t fracture his eye socket?
- What if Sarver doesn’t ship Johnson off for Boris Diaw and a Dozen donuts later that summer?
- What if Robert Horry is a less horrible person or David Stern exercised a little common sense?
That's a lot of painful wounds I just opened. But ALL of them TOGETHER would PALE in comparison to “What if the Suns had kept DA?” in Scenario 2: Having DA under team control, giving him away for spare parts, and then watching him become an All-NBA caliber player for the next decade or so. To me there is no question this is the worst-case scenario for the Suns and it’s fans. Many on this site don’t think DA has this type of potential, and I am not sure myself at this point, which is why keep going back to the fact that the last 2 years should have included significant game reps so we could have more certainty here. I can live with 5-10 years of exciting, competitive basketball but watching the Scenario 2 “What if” play out in real time would be simply too much to take.
Rod: As I kept mulling this over, I had a very difficult time making up my mind but I’m going with scenario #2. I decided to pick that one because of the part about him leaving “this summer”. Because of the sign-and-trade restrictions outlined by Dave about week ago, the Suns would have a hard time getting fair value in return for DA and if he blossoms into a consistently great player elsewhere it would be a very hard pill to swallow.
Scenario #1 would essentially be overpaying him and make him something of a liability on the team’s cap sheet but it wouldn’t be a total disaster.
Q2 - Dealing with DA’s restricted free agency is on everyone’s minds but Aaron Holiday is also an RFA. Should the Suns try to retain him and how much should they offer if they do attempt to re-sign him?
GuarGuar: I think we need to change things up and shake up the roster a bit. Holiday wasn’t bad but he was inconsistent and clearly in practice there was something that wasn’t inspiring to the coaching staff. I think we let him walk and don’t bat an eye.
SouthernSun: Might as well. Can’t sign any free agents except for with exceptions, so retain any of the guys you want to keep. I probably wouldn’t go above like 5 or 6 mil a year for him though. I doubt he gets more than that elsewhere either. I like him but he’s not a “priority”. Good bench guard depth but not exactly a 6th man or anything.
Alex S: Yes, keeping Holliday would be nice. He would have been somewhat of an afterthought based on how the year was playing out but with how Cam Payne played down the stretch, you gotta try to retain Aaron.
That being said, it’d be irresponsible to overspend on a third string PG based on a bidding war. Tough decisions for James to make this summer!
OldAz: I had not heard much about Holiday before he came to Phoenix but I have always liked his brother Jrue’s game. Like many on this site, I was intrigued by the few minutes he did get to play and I could imagine a future where maybe the Suns had found a diamond in the rough and heir apparent when CP3 is done. He just never got the chance to play enough to really see if there was something there. If there is another starter quality PG out there that can be acquired via trade or via a one of their exceptions, I would welcome it. But I don’t really believe there are that many starter quality (true) point guards out there, and certainly not available this Summer.
Absent that deal, I would love to have Holiday back. Maybe, with his profile at the time of the trade mixed with his lack of opportunity after, Aaron’s value is not that high and it won’t really be that much of a stretch to match any offer he gets on the open market. As for the actual dollar amount, it’s not my money so I am not great at that type of speculation. Cam Payne signed for 3 years/$19M last summer. I can’t imagine a team giving Holiday that much this offseason so I would hope the Suns match anything up to that point.
Rod: I would like to keep Aaron but I’d also like to keep him on a reasonably inexpensive contract. His QA is $5.8 mil but I doubt he’ll be high on anyone else’s want list so I could actually see the Suns possibly not offering him a QA in hope of just re-signing him at a bargain-level contract as an unrestricted free agent. I doubt that happens though, especially if they are intent on moving Cam Payne this summer which I think is a strong possibility.
Q3 - There are rumors that James Jones may want to get back into this year’s draft. The easiest way for the Suns to do this is to simply buy a 2nd round pick from another team. To get a 1st round pick, they would have to make a trade. Which do you think is most likely and do you think they should do it?
GuarGuar: I think it’s more likely we make a trade to get a pick than outright buying a pick given our ownership. I’d laugh really hard if Sarver spent 4 million dollars on a second round pick in the 40s range. That being said it would be a smart move to buy a pick or two and try and nail a gem in the draft.
SouthernSun: I’m fine with buying 2nd round picks, obviously, but I'm not cool with trading veterans or decent known quantity young players for mystery boxes, almost ever. And I'm definitely not on board with trading known quantities for mystery boxes when in title contention with maybe 1 year left of CP3.
Alex S: Think a trade makes sense with how many rotation pieces the Suns have and how the (lack-thereof) performance they put on in the postseason. Whose urgently looking for a couple rotation pieces? There’s sure to be a few teams that need to improve their depth and have a late first to splurge.
OldAz: Short answer... I have no idea.
I have to admit that I am out of my depth on the draft (insert jokes about similarities to James Jones here) as I am just not that familiar with the College players. From my perspective, the NBA draft is often a crap-shoot with a very low success rate, including in the lottery picks but even more so as you get to the latter half of the first round. Add to this James Jones’ short history of trading back or picking players far earlier than they were projected, and I am definitely in the camp voting NOT to make any trades to get into the first round. I could see buying a pick in the second if there is a player Jones’ feels strongly about, but the track record to be that aggressive in the draft is just not there (especially if Monty is not going to fully utilize them anyway).
Rod: I could see Jones buying a second rounder from one of the teams that have multiple 2nds (Minnesota, Orlando, Sacramento, Cleveland, Portland, New Orleans, Indiana & Golden State) but those tend to be really big gambles. Teams also have a limit on the amount of cash (around $6 mil this year) which can be used to obtain picks and/or as “cash considerations” in player trades so I’m not certain he would want to use a significant amount of that on a 2nd round pick unless he has a really strong feeling about a certain player likely available.
I honestly think it’s more likely that the Suns make a trade before or on draft day to get a pick but I can’t see them willing to give up anyone that other teams would really want just to get back into the draft. More likely they would have to trade one or two expiring contracts to a team trying to unload some long-term salary and would be willing to add a pick to make it happen. Not knowing Jones’ other plans for this offseason, I can’t say whether this would be a good idea at the moment.
Many thanks to all our Fantable members for their extra effort this week!
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Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Suns’ head coach Monty Williams is...”
09% - Already on the hot seat.
25% - Not on the hot seat yet but should be on a short leash during the 2022-23 season.
66% - Safe unless the team totally collapses and winds up in the lottery again.
A total of 766 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Overall, how do you rate James Jones’ performance as the Suns’ GM?
This poll is closed