The Phoenix Suns are spiraling out of control.
Losers of four straight and 5-13 in their last 18 games, the team is on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture. There’s a lot of season left, to be sure, but with Devin Booker looking to be out at least another three weeks and the lackluster play of multiple starters in his absence, it’s justifiable to say the Suns are at a crossroads where they will soon have to decide which way to go with the remainder of the season.
Should they be buyers? Sellers? Somehow try to split the difference?
I asked a few BSOTS staffers to weigh in, roundtable style.
Kyle: My preference would still be to try to make a big move to put the Suns in real contention this season. No team in the NBA, even the top eastern teams, strikes me as so imposing that an improved Suns wouldn’t have a prayer in a seven game series.
I don’t see the utility in trading Devin Booker unless he’s disgruntled and asking out. There’s no better player on the trading block that another team would be looking to take Booker back for. Not that I can think of, anyway.
I would absolutely consider trading Mikal Bridges or even Deandre Ayton in a star deal, depending on the specific players involved.
Khaleel: The Suns should definitely retool, but not rebuild. No need to completely blow it up. But I wouldn’t mind a big move. They need to do something for sure, can’t just sit still.
Damon: Pushing your chips all in just to make the playoffs for one or two years but not seriously contend isn’t as valuable as taking one step back to take two steps forward. Especially in a year with a draft so talented at every level, plus the cap implications of CP3’s contract becoming a lot less burdensome after this season.
Plus, there’s the tendency of new owners across all sports to want to make a big splash early in their tenures and I think going after a (slim) chance at someone like Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson may be a bigger splash than someone like Bojan Bogdanovic. Especially if one of their first moves may also be finding a new G- league affiliate like many have speculated.
In other words, the Suns should prioritize Booker’s window over Chris Paul’s.
Voita: We have a lot of season left to go, and the west is wide-open. We need to get healthy. We need to trade Jae Crowder. That is the answer.
The Suns are going through it. But if you think that firing James Jones and Monty Williams is the answer, you are sadly mistaken. Or an idiot.— John Voita (@DarthVoita) January 2, 2023
Why, after so many years of not having consistent culture in place, would we want to go back to that place again?
Khaleel: I agree. Health and an enforcer would go a long way.
Dave: The Suns need to make a trade or two and go for it this season. You know, the one we’ve been waiting for with Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet, Dario Saric and a first round pick or two. If the top player you can get back is Kyle Kuzma, so be it. Kuzma only makes $13 million this year, so you’re doing a slightly smaller deal in terms of salary but probably at least one draft pick. But what if I told you the Raptors might decide on February 1 to trade All-NBA Pascal Siakam to the highest bidder? Would you rather hold the cards until that shakes out? That’s what James Jones is weighing now. The West is TIGHT. Despite all this losing, the Suns are only three losses out of 4th in the West.
A really great post-deadline run can vault them all the way back into the top 4, hitting the playoffs on all cylinders. Remember the 2010 Suns? They were middling in late January, but went 28-7 in the last 35 games, hit the playoffs as the 3rd seed and almost made the Finals. This current Suns team, with an upgrade over Jae Crowder in place and health all around, is better than that 2010 team.
This season is in James Jones’ hands. He’s got 4 weeks to get it done. If he fails to improve on Jae Crowder, then he might go on extended vacation when the season ends.
Kyle’s closing thoughts:
I have to admit that as much as I don’t want to endure a second-half tank or see pieces of the Suns’ 2021 finals team sold off for draft picks and cap space, Damon makes a fairly compelling point with solid historical precedent, as he discussed in his recent piece comparing the Suns and the Toronto Raptors.
I feel torn. The next few weeks could bring some clarity. I’m almost afraid to see what will happen.