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Inside the Suns - Topics: Offseason trades, using the taxpayer MLE and CP3

Your weekly Inside the Suns analysis straight from the BSotS community who live and breathe the team.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

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 - Now that a trade for Kevin Durant is off the table (for now), do you believe James Jones will go into camp with the roster pretty much as is or will he attempt another smaller trade before then?

GuarGuar: Yea unfortunately I think we pretty much will be going into training camp with this current roster. I don’t see us making any big moves before the season. I’d be expecting of a bigger move come around the trade deadline. Hopefully James proves me wrong though.

OldAz: I believe he better, and that he will make at least 1 trade. In my mind, this is not about this year as much as future cap management. It is not good to go into the season with so many expiring contracts unless those are players you expect to resign long term. Otherwise, if you keep all of Craig, Saric, and Crowder for the full season the Suns would not be able to replace those players by any other means than resigning them after the season. Far better to include at least some of these into a deal for a player on a multi year deal that fits in the rotation long term. This is especially true if these players can be packaged with picks to bring back a significant upgrade. Some of the examples thrown around this week are perfect examples of this.

Cliff30: I have no idea. Normally I would have said that James Jones usually works fast and if he was going to make a big move he would have made it. But obviously the KD situation has made this not a normal off-season and has likely put lots of potential moves on hold. We have expiring contracts and all our future picks. That’s plenty of ammo to do something significant and I hope Jones does so. But maybe waiting on the KD situation has cost us that opportunity for now. I don’t like waiting until the trade deadline to make a move, because we’d have far less time to integrate them into our system.

Rod: I think it’s likely that the Suns will stand pat until camp begins unless a very good trade opportunity presents itself. That’s not to say that I think James Jones is just going to sit idly by and wait for the phone to ring. I’m sure he’ll be actively looking for that deal but won’t jump on anything that doesn’t significantly raise the talent level of the Suns.

Also, the Suns have only one open roster spot at the moment but they can bring in at least 4 more players on training camp deals. Usually those go to younger players still trying to make an NBA squad but the Suns aren’t looking for young, unproven players so I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one older vet shows up at camp for the Suns on a non-guaranteed deal.

Q2 - The Suns still have an open roster spot and the taxpayer MLE ($6,967,000) to spend. Do you think they will use that to sign someone before camp or save it for later use (possibly in the buyout market)?

GuarGuar: I think it’s possible we use it on a guy like Aldridge or Kemba but I really don’t see us making any significant moves until mid season. I’m expecting us to hold onto it for now. I think it’s possible we use it on a guy like Aldridge or Kemba but I really don’t see us making any significant moves until mid season. I’m expecting us to hold onto it for now.

OldAz: I think this gets saved for the buyout market. The Suns are already well into the Tax and using the TPMLE still adds a heavier tax cost. I just don’t see any player currently out there worth this cost to the Suns. The trade options make far more sense, but this could change if a multiplayer trade is made and it creates a gap at a position where an available player would be a strong contributor. I don’t think you spend the TPMLE on a player that is not clearly part of the top 8 rotation, and that would be hard to crack on the current roster.

Cliff30: I don’t think using the MLE would have in any way affected the KD situation, so on this I think the fact that they haven’t made the move means they don’t think anybody out there is worth it. And given where they are in the LT, adding somebody at that price would be a costly move (if my reading of the rules and math are correct it would up the LT bill by about 24 million). So it would probably have to be somebody they really liked to get Sarver to sign off on the addition. We’ll see, but I’m a little skeptical that it’s getting used this year.

Rod: I can’t say for certain what they will do but I believe they should tuck the TP MLE in their back pocket and save it for later in the season. I just don’t see any current free agents that I believe are worth spending more than the vet minimum on and that MLE could be the key in signing someone who later becomes available in the buyout market.

Team needs tend to change as the season goes on and I’d like the Suns to have more than a vet minimum contract to offer later on if injuries create a hole in the roster that needs to be filled with a quality option that wants more than a minimum salary. Even if injuries don’t become an issue, roster weakness sometimes aren’t discovered until after the season starts.

Q3 - I recently read an opinion that the Suns’ biggest problem in the playoffs was due to an over reliance on CP3. It worked in the regular season but during the playoffs opponents made numerous adjustments (especially Dallas) that were specifically aimed at wearing Paul down and the rest of the team (and Monty) wasn’t prepared to deal with that. Do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

GuarGuar: I completely agree with that assessment. The dynamic the team plays with when Chris is off the floor is so different. Point Book lineups have had great success over the past few seasons. Our offense is so pick and roll one dimensional when Chris is running things. I’m hoping Monty realizes this and we can diversify our offense more.

Out of our big 3 (Ayton, Book, Paul) CP is the one teams are most able to exploit come playoff time. He’ll get hunted on defense and if you trap him he can’t score his midrange shots. We have to be able to play great without a dominant CP3.

OldAz: I 100% agree with this sentiment, and believe the last 4 playoff series are significant proof. The Clippers, Bucks, Pels, and Mavs all blitzed the Suns backcourt with constant physical pressure. Teams simply don’t commit to this type of defense in the regular season and you certainly don’t see it from game to game. In the playoffs it is absolutely an effective strategy against the Suns, and it has a cumulative effect as the Suns survived the first such attack each year (Clips, Pels) but the 2nd team reaped the benefits (Bucks, Mavs) against the worn down backcourt. Even more, CP3 has a long career of greatness that hits a wall for various reasons in the playoffs where physicality is ramped up and calls are tougher to get. It will only get worse as CP3 will be another year older and on the wrong side of that being a benefit. This is the main reason Monty needs to prioritize development over winning every single win in the regular season. Draymond Green called this out pretty clearly after last years playoffs and he is 100% right. The Suns getting a slightly lower seed but having DA, Mikal and Cam prepared to carry or initiate their own offense will be so much more effective come playoff time.

Cliff30: I don’t think it’s an over-reliance on CP3. Devin Booker is certainly more than capable to initiate and be the center of the offense. In fact I think in lots of instances we’re better running through Booker. I think the problem was CP3 not being productive off-ball. When Dallas was trapping Booker every single time down the court leaving CP3 wide open. He needed to aggressively take those open threes. He shot a great percentage in that Dallas series but 3.3 per game when they’re leaving you wide open isn’t aggressive enough. He needs to get back to the rate he was taking them when he was paired with Harden to punish teams for doubling Booker. The year they came up a game short of the finals he attempted twice as many threes per game that postseason.

Rod: I believe it played a big part in the Suns’ 2nd round series loss to Dallas. They hounded CP3 near full court on offense and then targeted him with switches that made him repeatedly have to defend bigger, stronger players on defense. It wore him down and the Suns couldn’t adapt.

In the past, Book has shown that he can initiate the offense and that shouldn’t be put on hold until it’s needed as other teams will be expecting it and will have prepared for that also. The Suns need to utilize Book as the initiator more frequently in the regular season to get ready for this AND also get others up to speed on it so that opponents won’t be able to focus just on CP3 and Book. They need to learn to use CP3 as an off the ball offensive option and not just as a last resort (after he’s already worn out). Being predictable is a game killer especially in the playoffs.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!

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Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “Should the Suns attempt more 3’s per game this season?

51% - Yes.

49% - No.

A total of 213 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


The Suns should...

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Go ahead and use the taxpayer MLE to sign the best player available now.
    (43 votes)
  • 81%
    Hang on to the TP MLE until the buyout market begins.
    (193 votes)
236 votes total Vote Now

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