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Center of the Sun: Ayton is back but the Suns must still improve their roster this summer

Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Summer League Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks W (105-78) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Sacramento Kings L (82-69) Full Recap

Phoenix Suns vs Indiana Pacers W (84-69) Full Recap

Lots of people - both fans and media types - are saying that the Suns just don’t have the assets to make a trade with Brooklyn for Kevin Durant happen. They really didn’t have what the Nets wanted before matching the offer sheet the Indiana Pacers gave to Deandre Ayton but before then they at least had the potential to get more of what the Nets want through a possible sign and trade deal. That ship has sailed though.

With DA back in the fold for the upcoming season, the Suns will still be a very strong team and a contender in the West. If they want to be a strong contender, their roster still needs some work. If adding KD is no longer a realistic option this summer, strengthening their roster in other ways becomes the priority.

I love Jae Crowder and what he’s done for this team but getting a better power forward has long been on the Suns’ to-do list. The Suns have little other than the taxpayer MLE to spend on a free agent and the list of available UFA power forwards is uninspiring to say the least. The better names on that list are well past their primes and the rest would be a step down from Jae. A trade would be the most likely path to getting a new PF for the Suns and Atlanta has had John Collins on the trade block for some time now.

Collins’ career averages of 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 37.6% on threes looks really good to me and his contract ($102 mil over the next 4 seasons) isn’t bad for a soon to be 25 year old that could be one of the Suns’ missing pieces in a successful championship run. But he won’t come cheap and the price might also include one (or more) of the draft picks and/or players that the Suns would need to stay in the running for KD.

The backup point guard problem might be easier to solve though and for the taxpayer MLE ($6.5 mil in 2022/23). There’s been a lot of talk among fans about adding Dennis Schröder. The TP MLE is a little more than he was making last season ($5.9 mil) but I doubt he would jump at that offer as he will likely be looking for a larger payday somewhere. Then there’s Euroleague star Vasilije Micic whom our own Damon Allred wrote an excellent article on just a few days ago detailing why he would be a good fit in Phoenix.

After those two, there’s really no one still available that I presently trust to take over as the Suns’ starting PG on those nights that CP3 might be out. The next best guy on the list might be... Eric Bledsoe? There’s also 36 year old Rajon Rondo but I’m not sure he and CP3 could even co-exist on the same team.

Shoring up the PG position is a priority whether the Suns continue their pursuit of KD or not. CP3 and Cam Payne are presently the only two PGs on the Suns’ roster and I’ve lost most of my trust in Payne as a primary backup and won’t be satisfied if the Suns just bring in another PG that at best would likely only challenge Cam P for backup minutes. This team needs an upgrade and that also might only come through a trade.

The key question here is what the Suns are prioritizing. If it’s getting Durant this summer, forget about them spending possible KD trade assets to get someone like Collins... at least until they’re certain they can’t get KD. That also makes getting a backup PG they can rely on using the TP MLE instead of doing it through a trade for the same reason.

Which way will the Suns go now? I wish I had the answer. Things should become clearer in the coming weeks through as we keep a close eye on what James Jones does... or doesn’t do.


Summer League Highlights

SUNS vs MAVERICKS | NBA SUMMER LEAGUE | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS

KINGS vs SUNS | NBA SUMMER LEAGUE | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS

SUNS vs PACERS | NBA SUMMER LEAGUE | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS


Summer League Stats

Final Record: 3-2

Graphics courtesy of RealGM.com.


Quotes of the Week

“He (Monty Williams) likes to develop personal relationships and all the basketball stuff is a bonus. We just share a common interest or common love for the game. He really genuinely cares about how you’re doing, and how you are in your day-to-day life.” - Devin Booker

“I just want to be that Swiss Army knife every team needs.” - Josh Okogie


2021-22 Season Highlights

THUNDER at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | December 29, 2021

SUNS at HORNETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | January 2, 2022

SUNS at PELICANS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | January 4, 2022


News & Notes

The Ripple Effects of Deandre Ayton Returning to the Suns. Sports Illustrated

The Phoenix Suns Have Not Offered Mikal Bridges Or Largest Possible Amount Of First-Round Picks In Kevin Durant Trade. Fadeaway World

NBA Insiders Believe Suns’ Chances of Landing Kevin Durant ‘Dimmed’. Yardbarker

Suns: 2 biggest needs Phoenix must still address to win 2023 NBA Finals. Clutch Points

Six Suns Make Top 125 Players List. Sports Illustrated

Phoenix Suns: 2022 NBA free agency grades for every key signing. Clutch Points

Devin Booker Praises Relationship With Monty Williams, Chris Paul. Yardbarker

Chris Paul, DeMar DeRozan in the lab together putting in work ahead of 2022-23 NBA season. Clutch Points

Rewind: Joel Embiid Says Suns Guard Devin Booker is Underrated Trash-Talker. Yardbarker


This Week in Suns History & Suns Trivia

On July 18, 1999, Joe Proski, the Phoenix Suns’ only trainer in it’s history to that point, retired, following 32 years with the franchise, 40 years in professional sports, and 41 years as a trainer. His career spanned 2,789 games, including playoffs.

On July 18, 2001, due largely to being charged with domestic abuse of his wife, the Suns traded 3-time All Star Jason Kidd (and Chris Dudley) to the New Jersey Nets for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake. Marbury would play 3 seasons for the Suns averaging 21.3 points and 8.1 assists per game although the Suns would only make it to the playoffs once in those three seasons and were eliminated in the 1st round by San Antonio 4-2.

In 2004 the Suns would trade Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway and Cezary Trybański to the New York Knicks for Howard Eisley, Maciej Lampe, Antonio McDyess, Charlie Ward, Milos Vujanic and two first round draft picks. Shortly after that, the Suns traded those two 1st round picks to the Utah Jazz as part of a salary dumping move. One of those picks was later used by the Jazz to select one-time All-Star Gordon Hayward.

On July 19, 2001, the Phoenix Suns re-signed 36 year old free agent Dan Majerle to a one-year, $1 million contract. Seven years earlier Majerle was traded to Cleveland for John “Hot Rod” Williams, a move the Colangelo’s later regretted. Majerle would play one final season in the NBA and retire as a Sun.

On July 19, 2017, Brandon Knight suffered a torn ACL while playing pickup basketball in Florida. The news broke a week later on July 25, while hitting the papers for the first time on July 26. Knight would miss the entire 2017-18 season and never play for Phoenix again.

On July 20, 2007, on the same day that Tim Donaghy was officially investigated by the FBI, the Phoenix Suns traded Kurt Thomas plus two firsts in 2008 (Serge Ibaka) and 2010 (Quincy Pondexter) to the Seattle SuperSonics. The Suns gained... luxury tax relief.

On July 24, 1996, the Suns officially signed their 1st round pick (15th), Steve Nash to a 3-year deal worth $992,300 a season. When asked what kind of player he expected to be, Nash joked, “Probably a little bit like Michael Jordan at first.”


Classic Suns Highlights

Stephon Marbury Phoenix Suns Highlights

Stephon Marbury Suns 26pts 11asts vs Lakers (2003)


Important Future Dates

August ? - Regular season schedules expected to be released.

August 31 - Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2022/23 salaries.

September 5 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks; those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered.

Late September (specific dates TBA) - Training camps open.

October 22 - Regular season begins.

December 15 - Most players signed during offseason can be traded.

January 5 - 10-day contracts may now be signed.

January 15 - All players signed during offseason can be traded.

February 17-19 - 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend/All-Star Game (Salt Lake City, UT)