Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
First up, 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 - How long do you expect the Kevin Durant trade negotiations to last and is there a point in time that you think James Jones should just cut bait and move on to Plan B (whatever that might be)?
GuarGuar: I find it hard to see these KD trade discussions going longer than the next week or so. I think both parties want to move on and it’s clear that this deal is holding up free agency. Unless KD gets traded elsewhere I see no reason for James Jones to ever cut bait and move to plan B. All the chips should be pushed in for KD. It’s Kevin Durant.
OldAz: It depends. James Jones knows the real reason any deal is taking so long, so I am trying to be patient. If there is still hope to make the trade without gutting the entire team, then he should wait. If that hope is slim or a decision has to be made (like DA getting an offer sheet) then it is time to move on. Nothing has been lost as any real moves this off season had to be via trade anyway. Other than the TMLE, free agency was never a viable option and what type of player and position they should spend that TMLE on entirely depends on what trades are made.
Jim C: The Kevin Durant situation has been a roller coaster. Now I can’t figure out if we’re stuck on the tracks somewhere on the ride or sitting back at the starting point with the attendant telling us to get off. These things usually get hammered out faster than this during the free agency period. Other moves can be in limbo until the big dominoes fall. A stalemate of this magnitude can grind things to a halt. If a deal is going to happen I don’t see why it hasn’t.
I’m not sure how much motivation there is to move on to plan B. I would assume plan B is still trying to find a trade partner for Ayton. They might even have that in place contingent on the Durant situation. Then plan C is to bring him back and try to mend fences. But at this point, Ayton signing an offer sheet is the only thing that really forces the Suns’ hand... otherwise plan B and C remain on the table. If getting “stuck” with Ayton is the worst case scenario I don’t think waiting is a big deal.
It’s just not fun or sexy. The roller coaster started off fun. Now that we aren’t moving anymore it kind of sucks.
Rod: I wish I could say that I think the negotiation with the Nets should be over quickly but I just don’t see that happening. It’s likely going to take involving at least one more team in the trade for the Nets to get enough in return without the Suns giving up way too much and that’s likely to get complicated.
While all the waiting can be frustrating, a chance to land Kevin Durant doesn’t come along every day. The fact that he’s under contract for 4 years doesn’t give the Nets any reason to move quickly so I’ve never expected a speedy resolution. I doubt that James Jones expects one either so I doubt that he’s going to give up any time soon. In fact, I believe that the Nets are more likely to eventually call it quits before the Suns do.
Q2 - Of the three newest members of the Suns, Damion Lee (6’5” SG), Josh Okogie (6’4” SG/SF)) and Jock Landale (6’11” C), which do you think has the highest potential to actually have an impact as a rotation player this season?
GuarGuar: I think Jock has the potential to be a key backup big for us. He’s seem to have a good feel for the game and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him have big minutes this year, given our current center rotations.
OldAz: If the Suns end up with any of these three playing significant minutes as a rotational player this year then the off-season went very wrong. These 3 look like the new version of Elf Payton, Abdul Nader, and Frank K (after Biz was signed). If I had to pick one, it would be Okogie but only bacause he is still young at 23. He has athleticism and maybe some maturity and a new team/system will unlock something for him, more than he has shown so far. I guess it is still possible for Landale as well at 26, but if he was not a serious contributor for the Spurs last year I am not sure that next level is really there.
Jim C: I think Damion Lee is the best player of the three. He plays good defense and doesn’t do a lot of things to hurt the team. If he can get back to shooting around 40% from three point range he should be able to give the team 15-20 solid minutes as a backup. He managed to get on the court for the Warriors a decent amount. Josh Okogie is still fairly young... but I don’t see his career taking off. Kind of don’t think he would still be in the league if Minnesota wouldn’t have drafted him in the first round. Maybe I’m missing something, but a shooting guard who hits less than 28% of his threes isn’t much of a shooting guard.
I think Jock Landale has the best opportunity to make an impact. Those other guys will be fighting for minutes behind all-stars. Landale is fighting for minutes with other players who are fighting for minutes. This is part of the reason why people are worried about Ayton leaving. There is a huge drop-off from him to anyone currently on the roster. The fact that I’m thinking Landale has this opportunity to make an impact illustrates that. Landale can shoot a little bit so might fit into what the Suns want to do more, but he’s not a great rebounder or defender... which also seems to fit with what the Suns want to do.
Rod: It really could be any of the three depending on the final makeup of the Suns’ roster when the season begins. Lee seems to be the best offensive player of the three and has a career 35.7% average from three. Okogie is offensively challenged but can be a dog on defense. Landale is more of a question mark but has some size and looks like a good team player. Too bad we can’t put the three of them together and have a 6’11” bulldog defender that can also nail threes at a solid rate.
I’m going to tie my answer to whether the Durant trade goes through or not. If KD winds up on the Suns, I think Okogie probably has the better chance to make an impact because of his defensive skills. If that trade doesn’t happen, Lee could possibly get minutes to add another scoring threat off the bench. Landale... well, he’s still got a lot to prove and if Ayton somehow doesn’t get traded during the offseason I doubt he sees much court time.
Q3 - Other than Ish Wainright, is there anyone on the Suns’ Summer League team that you’re interested in watching during the SL games?
GuarGuar: This might be the most unexciting Summer Suns team we’ve had the past decade. Outside of Ish I really have no clue about anyone on the roster. That being said I will still catch a couple of the games for sure. I’ll be interested to see what Ish can do with a heavier offensive workload.
OldAz: Nope. I love my wife and want to stay married. Letting my obsession with sports grow to include binge watching summer league basketball would likely be at the expense of something far more important that I could be doing.
Jim C: Maybe a player like Vrenz Bleijenbergh, 6’ 10” SF (Belgium)??? The roster isn’t very impressive, but maybe a young guy (20 years old) can flash some upside that he can grow into. Bleijenbergh would be another big in the mold the Suns appear to covet. He can run the floor and even handle the ball well enough to start a fastbreak off a steal or long rebound... which also utilizes his playmaking ability. His shooting is a work in progress. One of those situations where mechanically it “looks” like he could be a good shooter, but he’s not there yet. Hopefully he could become the next Alec Peters, who Ryan McDonough thought was one of the best shooters in the 2017 NBA draft. He also is a twig and needs to add lots of strength and weight to bang and be at least an adequate defender. I know I’m reaching, but the Suns need bigs if Ayton is leaving.
Rod: While none of these guys is going to become a steady rotation player for the Suns, one or two might actually make the team as a two-way contract player. With Covid still a concern, adding someone at least competent could come in handy at some point. These guys are mostly older, experienced players and could be good additions for that role. Of the bunch I’m mostly interesting in seeing Vrenz Bleijenbergh (6’10” SF Belgium), Kevin Zhang (6’10” PF Tulane) and Duop Reath (6’11” PF/C LSU). Why? Mostly because they’ve all got good height which the Suns need, especially at PF. I’m also interested in seeing Zhang because one of his favorite players growing up was Steve Nash and he started out playing as a guard before growing to 6’10”.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Interesting Suns Stuff
The HUGE Problem With Kevin Durant Trades...
The Kevin Durant Trade Could Take A While Iffe Lundberg Update
Players with 65 Points and 3 Steals in a Game:— NBA Muse (@NBAMuse24) July 4, 2022
- Devin Booker
- Kobe Bryant
- Michael Jordan
End of List. pic.twitter.com/6EzQYDbuGU
Last Week’s Poll Results
Last week’s poll was “Is James Jones’ philosophy regarding the draft acceptable to you?”
45% - Yes.
55% - No.
A total of 332 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
How long do you think the Kevin Durant trade negotiations will last?
This poll is closed
Another week or two at most.
At least another month but not much more.
They could take all summer.