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Suns Weekly (Oct 9): The Big Three and the Multiverse

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

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NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Detroit Pistons David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Devin Booker has a strong opinion about how the Phoenix Suns will play this year in a new lineup with him, Kevin Durant and Bradly Beal.

On instagram, he clipped and posted a scene from the last Spiderman movie when all the old Spideys — Toby Macguire (KD, of course) and Andrew Garfield (Beal!) join forces with new spidey Tom Holland (Book) from the multiverse to defeat their enemy. For those with instagram, here’s the whole clip.

Yesterday’s preseason game could not have been more fun to watch. A glance at the score makes it seem closer than the game really was. The Suns had that thing on lockdown the whole time, showing a swarming defense (Thanks Frank!) and free flowing offense in high gear.

When all three of Book, Beal and KD played in an equal opportunity offense where no one player had the ball for an inordinate amount of time, the offense is sublime.

Keys to the season, of course, will be the play of the other two around them. Can they draw the defense’s attention at least a little bit off the Big Three, either by force or by gravity? These guys will. Cutting, screen-setting, shooting, corner threats are all there in a multitude of players who can deliver in their roles. Somehow, they all simply seem to fit.

And what happens when 2 of the 3 three sit? Or even all three of them? We got glimpses, even if it was disappinting to find that Jordan Goodwin couldn’t fit the court (hammy). We saw that Eric Gordon has the chops to being the ball down and set up an offense that’s really big on dribble handoffs and big-man screens to clear cutters and swingers. We also saw that Gordon and Grayson Allen have some aggression getting into the lane and forcing contact.

Getting to the line? Yeah, that’s getting better. Beal is aggressive into contact. Jusuf Nurkic too. The Suns 10 free throws in the first quarter — they had four games last year with under 10 for the whole game! Off the bench, Drew Eubanks, Eric Gordon and Grayon Allen force the action as well.

Granted, this was against the lowly Pistons, but my biggest takeaway is that these guys had a PLAN and knew how to play off each other, even from the jump. Defense will be a yearlong challenge because it’s going to be based on activity and crisp help rotations to save the load on the Big Three, but that’s exactly why you hire Frank Vogel, who coached the league’s top defense in three different seasons and has won a championship with a Lakers model not so different than this Suns one.

Notable Quotes

“Championship.” Bradley Beal’s one word on this Suns team, to Duane Rankin of the

“I was more impressed with our attention to detail defensively. Because we were guarding, we were able to get into an offensive rhythm.” — Suns head coach Frank Vogel after game one in preseason.

“It will be a change for everyone... It will be an adjustment for everybody. We are all unselfish guys. We all just want to hoop, we all just want to win.” — Bradley Beal to Sirius XM Radio (link in next section)

“[Yuta Watanabe] really has a knack for being in the right spots, understanding schemes and played a good two-way game tonight.” — Head coach Frank Vogel to media after preseason win

Suns around the web

PHNX Sports - Gerald Bourget — Four ways Bradley Beal raises the Suns ceiling

ClutchPoints / Trevor Booth — Recapping that 46-point first quarter in preseason game 1

Ringer / Michael Pina — Five players (including Bradley Beal) who will define the season

AZCentra/Arizona Republic / Duane Rankin — 5 things we learned from the opening preseason win vs. Pistons

Clutch Points / Trevor Booth — Yuta Watanabe’s impact in the preseason game, and what he brings to the team

Good Bright Side reads you probably missed

Each week I’ll highlight some Bright Side articles that didn’t get as many eyeballs as they should have. It’s worth your time to give these unique takes a look before they’re lost in the ether forever.

Capn Voita — Nurkic is a great fit in the Suns offense

The King — The Suns have a new trade master in the front office

Damon — Under the radar highlights from Media Day

Brynn — Understanding the Ayton trade through analytics

Cole — How Bol Bol could unlock the Phoenix Suns

And here’s a fun new podcast with yours truly, Dave King!

Cap Sheet

The Suns have 17 players under standard contract (not including two-ways), but will need to cut down to 15 standards before the regular season tips on off October 24.

Contracts in black ink are guaranteed, meaning the Suns have to pay those salaries whether or not the player is on the team, and would only be offset by the salary that player would get by signing with another team.

The easy cuts, then, which would save the Suns the most salary (though they’d still be over the second apron by a bit), is to cut the non-guaranteeds of Jordan Goodwin and Ish Wainright. Their fortunes took a turn downward when both missed him in training camp and preseason with injuries (hamstring, calf, respectively). Another possible casualty is the unknown severity of Damion Lee’s meniscus injury. If he’s set to miss significant time, the Suns might release him to keep one of the non-guaranteeds.

The 2023-24 totals below assume cutting off Goodwin and Ish to get down to 15, leaving the Suns still 2.4 million over the second tax line. Releasing Lee instead would double that overage.

Of course, the Suns can also adjust their roster and cost implications if, during preseason, they identify somewhere to trade to a deep bench player into someone’s cap space. That’s if someone just doesn’t look like would have a role this year.

Why does this ‘second tax apron’ matter? because being over that mark limits what the Suns can do with signings and trades to continue to improve the team.

During this coming season, if the Suns are over the second apron, they:

  • cannot sign any high-salary buyout guys (who had more than $12.4 million or so)
  • cannot acquire > 10% more salary than they send out in any trades

That means no more Terrence Ross signings after the trade deadline, and no more Durant and Beal trades the way they were done in bringing back significantly more salary.

And if the Suns are still over the second apron after April 2024, they

  • cannot pay more than league minimum for free agents from another team
  • cannot trade the “seven years out” first round pick (2031)
  • cannot acquire any players in sign-and-trade
  • cannot send out cash in any trades
  • cannot take back ANY more salary than they send out, not even a dollar
  • can only do one-for-one trades for salary-matching purposes (no salary aggregation of multiple players)

If they remain over the second apron twice in the following four years (i.e. three of five), starting NEXT season:

  • those future frozen draft picks are moved to the END of the first round (they can later be unfrozen if the team gets below the second apron 3 out of 4 years)

In short, trades get tough for the teams over the second apron, including the Suns, Celtics, Nuggets and Clippers (This list only leaves out the Warriors and Bucks because Klay Thompson and Jrue Holiday are merely Bird Rights free agents until they re-sign).

Important Future Dates

  • Oct. 10: PRESEASON HOME OPENER! World Champ Denver Nuggets at Footprint Center
  • Oct. 24: REGULAR SEASON OPENER! Start of 2023-24 regular season; Suns @ Warriors on NBA’s Opening Night on TNT to help open the 2023-24 NBA season.
  • Nov. 3: NBA In-Season Tournament begins
  • Dec. 7: NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals
  • Dec. 9: NBA In-Season Tournament Finals for inaugural NBA Cup
  • Feb 8: Trade Deadline
  • Feb. 16-18: NBA All-Star Weekend 2024
  • April 14: 2023-24 regular season ends

This week’s poll


How goes the Suns-Nuggets rematch at the Foot on Tuesday (preseason)

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Suns win!
    (93 votes)
  • 15%
    Suns lose
    (17 votes)
110 votes total Vote Now

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