Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Each week the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders - give their takes on the Suns’ latest issues and news. But first, the following graphic shows the current Western Conference standings plus the probabilities for teams winning each playoff spot.
Graphic courtesy of PlayoffStatus.com.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Was the price the Suns paid for Kevin Durant (and TJ Warren) too high?
GuarGuar: As much as it hurts to give Mikal away, this was a very fair price for KD. A couple young rising players, a bunch of picks, and an expiring contract. Very fair price for a guy in contention for being a top 2 player in the game currently.
OldAz: Not at all. Last off season, when dreaming of KD was all the rage, I was on the record as advocating for this exact deal. I never believed the Nets would take all the Suns expiring deals and FRPs unless KD decided to go scorched earth in the media. Short of that, I was on board with a deal swapping Mikal and Crowder for KD.
I was also OK if it took DA instead of Mikal, although I always have contended that the Suns would be better and more balanced if they could keep DA since Mikal and KD essentially play the same position. The 4 FRPs project to all be middle to late picks, even the ones in 2027 and 2029 (when Book and DA will still be in their primes) and even then, picks are basically equivalent of lottery scratcher tickets.
Philip: We covered this in great detail on the latest episode of “Into the Valley,” so check that out for the lengthier version.
It is brutal to lose Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. I’m not sure you can find a more loveable pair of players in recent NBA history. They brought professionalism, growth, and community to an organization that needed positive influences. They’re going to be missed, and there are going to be moments when Suns fans desperately want one or both of them back on the team.
However, it’s Kevin Durant. It’s now Kevin Durant alongside Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Chris Paul. Overnight, the Suns went from a potential spunky playoff team to an unquestionable contender. The price was high, but the price was right for the chance the Suns are about to have to get their first ring.
Rod: My emotions want to say yes even though logic tells me no. I’ll miss the twins (especially Mikal who was always there on the court for every single game) but Durant jumps the Suns up to the top tier championship contention level. Getting TJ Warren back in the deal is also a nice plus as he will add even more offensive firepower to the team.
Q2 - Your thoughts on the Suns trading Dario Saric to OKC for Darius Bazley?
GuarGuar: We needed length and some wing defense so I’m fine with this deal. I wish Dario all the best and appreciate his time. Unfortunate that ACL injury had to happen.
OldAz: I don’t know much about Bazley except what I have read today. Younger, long, athletic defense all sound intriguing to me. Hopefully he gets a chance to play with this team and we see how he might fit. Saric could have been a key piece with this team based on how he has played lately, but the overall savings is crazy big. If it ultimately leads to the Suns spending a bit more to add a better player in the buyout market, then it will look even better.
Philip: I’ve been impressed with Dario the last few weeks. I like his passing (especially entry passing!), his willingness to move the ball, and his fit within the system. But, I have a hard time thinking he was going to be able to contribute much in the Western Conference Playoffs. There are too many talented–or, even just significantly bigger–bigs who would play him off the court or prevent him from playing in the first place.
Switching him out for an athletic wing after losing Mikal and Cam seems like a good move, even if it is a flyer on a young, relatively unproven guy.
Rod: Bazley doesn’t have Dario’s outside shooting or passing abilities but he’s definitely more athletic and a better, more versatile defender which I think may prove to be more useful than Dario’s skillset.
Q3 - The Suns still have two open roster spots. Who do you think might be a good player for them to pursue in the buyout market?
GuarGuar: I would love to get Reggie Jackson and Will Barton in the buyout market. They would be great bench pieces, especially Reggie. Reggie would also give solid Chris Paul insurance.
OldAz: I think one of those open spots needs to go to Ish Wainright, as the Suns are a little wing deficient right now and 2 way players are not playoff eligible. Also, players that get bought out are often bigger names (reputation) than actual production based on recent results.
That being said, I would be most interested in John Wall, Will Barton, Reggie Jackson or maybe Danny Green. The Suns need some quality wings and a good backup PG. It would be good to prioritize backup PG options considering CP3s age and playoff history. I know I am in the minority but John Wall would be my choice over Jackson. There is so much ISO ball in the playoffs and I am prioritizing Wall’s ability to get a decent shot off 1:1 here.
Barton may actually be my top choice if they go wing and he becomes available based on how he played against the Suns a couple years ago in the playoffs. Danny Green is another who seems to get hot from outside which would be nice, but he has not played really well this year.
I think who they sign (PG or Wing) also determines which one of Ish or S.Lee gets converted from their 2 way deal. Based on that, I would prioritize the PG in the buyout market.
Philip: I like the idea of Will Barton, especially given his experience playing in Denver. His shooting would be a nice addition to the bench.
The Suns are in a tough spot on the buyout market. If Cam Payne and Landry Shamet are still question marks for the rest of the season, the focus will have to be on backup guards when backup wings would be better for the team’s current roster construction. That to say, we might end up seeing the Suns sign one player from a buyout and convert Ish to a standard contract out of necessity.
Rod: I think that the Suns need to go after some point guard insurance in the buyout market. At CP3’s age and with Cam Payne’s injury problems (he’s missed 28 games so far) this season, I don’t want to go into the playoffs with the possibility of Saben Lee being our only healthy PG for any given game. I do like Saben but not THAT much.
The top names are likely going to be John Wall and Reggie Jackson and I’d be happy with either of them. After them, there’s Russell Westbrook who I have mixed feelings about. Beyond those three, there are rumors that Goran Dragic and Derrick Rose will be bought out. I’m not high on either but getting Dragic back might be acceptable if all else fails.
But what I think doesn’t matter to James Jones and/or Monty Williams. They might be content to roll the dice with the PGs we already have (including the Point Book option) and add talent at another position. Danny Green, Will Barton and/or Terrence Ross are good options to take a look at... and then there's the other Kevin - Kevin Love - who is rumored to be a possible buyout candidate. I’m not sure how much gas Love still has in the tank but the Suns might want to add some extra frontcourt insurance just in case Bazley doesn’t live up to expectations whether it’s Love or someone else.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Last Week’s poll results
It’s humorous that soooooo many of us got this wrong last week. Only 12.3% of fan voters thought that the Suns would make a “home run” trade (and I don’t know of any other way to describe the KD trade). I wish I could say that I was one of those 12.3% but I wasn’t. More people (18.4%) thought that the Suns would do nothing significant!
My hat’s off to the 12.3% that got it right!
Last week’s question was, “At the trade deadline I think the Suns will...”
12.3% - Make a home run trade.
40.3% - Make a significant but not great trade.
29.0% - Make a break even trade.
18.4% - Wind up bunting and do nothing significant.
A total of 560 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Did the Suns pay too much for KD?
This poll is closed
They paid a little more than I think was fair but it’s acceptable.