Over a 24-hour period in the middle of negotiating what could be the biggest trade in franchise history to acquire Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets, the Phoenix Suns quietly signed some depth players on likely minimum deals.
Late Saturday, per Shams Charania, the Suns signed defense-oriented Josh Okogie to the off-guard group that also includes Devin Booker, Landry Shamet and, as of Friday, Damion Lee. All four players are 6’4” to 6’5”. None are true point guards, and none are big enough to play either of the forward spots on a regular basis.
Once the 20th pick in the 2018 Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves — the same draft that Suns Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Landry Shamet came from — Okogie went from having potential as a defensive specialist to completely out of the Wolves rotation and released at the end of his four-year rookie contract. Late last week, the Wolves declined to give Okogie a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Okogie can play defense but just can’t shoot the basketball. He never topped 29% on three pointers, and never developed in the areas of playmaking or rebounding. He’s a great end-of-bench signing who can be feisty defensively, has some size and length to take on bigger ball-handlers, but cannot be counted on for offense.
Okogie’s signing caps off a day where the Suns added four minimum-salary players at two positions: two centers (Bismack Biyombo and Jock Landale) and two shooting guards (Damian Lee and Josh Okogie).
Knowing that GM James Jones likes to be three-deep at each position, you could read into this as a sign that the Suns expect to come out of a Kevin Durant deal with no more than one center and one shooting guard, while keeping their depth at point guard and wing/forward, but I would caution against that.
I simply think that there are just too many balls in the air, so to speak, on this big deal for Durant and the Suns really don’t know what their top-10 is going to look like after it’s done.
So for now, they are filling out the 11th-15th spots on the roster and waiting for all that dust to settle.
None of those guys should be counted on to play real minutes unless there’s injuries. They’re more of the Frank Kaminsky, Iffe Lundberg (ooooh, sorry Iffe these two guard signings are the same size as you), Elfrid Payton, Aaron Holiday types. Ready to play as needed, but not every night.
As for the latest on the Kevin Durant trade potential, we have not heard anything in at least 24 hours since Flex tweeted it could be done soon.
Flex’s update on Saturday:
Please enjoy the holiday weekend with family & let this KD thing play out! There's just alot of people, talking to alot of people, about alot of people & it's honestly getting ridiculous. I'm confident the Suns are in a great position, I'll leave all the other stuff for them pic.twitter.com/2dYUewRDjE— FLEX From Jersey (@FlexFromJersey) July 2, 2022
Rumors did come out, as Flex predicted, that the Nets are in negotiations to send Kyrie Irving elsewhere and maybe even to the Lakers in an Irving/Joe Harris for Russell Westbrook/Kendrick Nunn package. That would suck, actually, because the Lakers would suddenly become a lot better.
Other competition for KD’s services, at least drummed up by media, include the Toronto Raptors who could make available one-time All-Star Pascal Siakam (he is one who’s NOT on one of those designated rookie max extensions because his was only four years, like the Suns tried with Ayton a year ago) or rookie star Scottie Barnes who looks like a future All-Star to headline the offer.
But there’s no certainty Toronto is willing to trade either or those players, or that the Raptors can add as many future draft picks as the Suns.
And there’s no certainty — do not discount this at all — that Kevin Durant would just go along to a team the Nets picked for him. All Durant needs to do is threaten to hold out and demand another trade from the Raps, and suddenly it looks a lot less appetizing to trade your future for him.
What might that three-team trade with the Jazz and Nets look like, that Flex said is in the works as of Saturday? Big. Huge.
- Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Mikal Bridges or Cameron Johnson and a handful of firsts to the Nets
- Ben Simmons and Deandre Ayton to the Jazz
- Kevin Durant and Bojan Bogdanovic to the Suns
Those are just the headliners. The Nets on Saturday pulled their qualifying offer on Kessler Edwards, releasing a cap hold. There must be something cap-related here, and I’m guessing that means a LOT of players are coming to Brooklyn in this trade.
I’m guessing the Suns ultimately give up Ayton, Johnson, several first round picks and two other players from among Landry Shamet, Jae Crowder, Dario Saric and Torrey Craig for the rights to Kevin Durant from the Nets and one or two other good players.
Keep an eye out, Suns fans. We’ll keep you up to date here.