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Exploring what’s left of the Suns buyout market options

March 1 is rapidly approaching. How will James Jones manage the 15th and final roster spot?

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

March 1 is rapidly approaching, and the final roster move for the Phoenix Suns could hinge upon that date. That is when any new additions to an NBA roster must have been released by, in order to be eligible for the playoffs with a new team. One final move exists as James Jones and Mat Ishbia attempt to mold a roster that equates to the first championship in franchise history.

We should know soon how Jones intends to handle the Suns’ final roster spot. He’s gotta do something. What will it be?

There are several options available.

He could do what he did last year and sign Ish Wainright to the veteran minimum and have him available for the playoffs. Saben Lee, who is now on a two-way deal, is in the same boat. If the thought process is that whoever fills that slot won’t see much of the hardwood come postseason, this is the obvious route to navigate.

He could explore free agency, pursuing names like Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe, or D.J. Augustin. These options provide veteran presence and know-how, which can be beneficial come playoff time.

The drawback of the aforementioned free agents is that they will require time to integrate into the Suns offense and play themselves into basketball form. There are 22 games left, and while Monty works to turn this team into a title contender, he won’t have a bank of minutes to draw from to give the newcomer a chance to get his legs under him.

The most viable route for the Suns to fill their final roster spot – outside of simply moving either Wainwright or Lee into that position – is to explore the buyout market. These are players that, for the most part, have played recently and have been let go following a trade. They didn’t fit with the team or the finances of the incoming team, so they are on the market.

Below is a list of players available on the buyout market, as well as some who are rumored to be available soon.

John Wall

Point Guard, 6’3”, 10 years experience

11.4 points, 5.2 assists in 34 games (3 starts) with the Los Angeles Clippers this season

Wall was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers back to the Houston Rockets; the team that waived him in June of 2022.

Wall would meet the needs of the biggest area that needs addressing, in my humble opinion, at the backup point guard position. CP3 will tire in the postseason, there is no doubt of this. The every-other-day scheduling of the postseason by the NBA has taken it’s toll on the Point God the last two seasons. And how reliable is Cameron Payne going to be after missing 21 games with a heel injury?

There is a reason Wall is on the market. The 32 year-old hasn’t played since January 13 due to an abdominal injury. Those core injuries linger — ask Dame Lillard last year — and what’s the point of having three injury-prone PG’s in the postseason?

Wall is explosive. His speed — when healthy — is rivaled by few in the NBA.

If the Suns bring him in and run a three point guard rotation, distributing the minutes across Paul, Wall, and Payne in an effort to keep them all healthy, it could be a lethal trio. That would take some quality coaching by Monty, and of course health on all three players’ accounts.

That’s a big “if”.

Serge Ibaka

Forward/Center, 6’10”, 13 years experience

4.1 points, 2.8 rebounds on 16 games this season with the Milwaukee Bucks

Serge could essentially fill the Saric minutes that have been vacated following his exit to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has the length the play the five, but can play the four as well. Bring him back and it’s a true reunion: Serge, KD, and Cam Payne were all members of the 2015-16 Thunder squad.

So what’s the catch? Why did the Bucks trade him to the Indiana Pacers, who in turn waived him?

Per Bucks Zone:

Ibaka has not been with the Bucks for some time now due to supposed personal reasons. The 33-year-old Ibaka last played for Milwaukee on January 1st in the team’s 95-118 loss to the Washington Wizards.

No one is sure why Ibaka hasn’t been around, but some speculate that is due to dissatisfaction with the Bucks and his role within.

The question becomes is he ready and willing to contribute? Is there a role for him on this team? If so, the defensive presence is a plus, even if the 32 year-old is past his prime.

Will Barton

Guard/Forward, 6’6”, 10 years experience

7.7 points, 2.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds in 40 games with the Washington Wizards this season

Barton is an interesting option. Last season he started 71 games with the Denver Nuggets, scoring 14.7 points and shooting 36.5% from beyond the arc. He was traded this past offseason with Monte Morris to the Wizards for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith.

Barton commented on that trade, stating, “It was a shock in that, obviously, I had been there eight years, did so much there together, so it’s always shocking when you’ve been somewhere for so long and you’re moving on. But, at the same time, I embraced it, I’m welcoming a new chapter.”

Since then he has been relegated to the bench. The team wants to give the young Johnny Davis a chance to flourish. Surprisingly, the Wizards bought Barton out after unsuccessfully trading him.

With the signing of Terrence Ross, Barton would be duplicative on the Suns. Both are wing shooters who will be called upon for that role. No need to have two chuckers, but you can never have too many wings though...

Stanley Johnson

Forward, 6’6”, 7 years experience

5.8 points, 2.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds in 30 games played for the San Antonio Spurs

Speaking of “you can never have too many wings”, allow me to introduce you to Stanley Johnson. Johnson, who the Spurs signed on December 13, has been a journeyman throughout his career. His best year was 2017-18 with the Detroit Pistons in which he scored 8.7 points in 69 games, 50 of which were starts.

He was having a solid season with the Spurs, shooting 45% from deep. Why did they let him go? As Air Alamo suggests, the Spurs wanted to make room for their two-way contract signing Charles Bassey on their roster.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Much akin to Barton, you have to ponder if his addition would truly meet a need for Phoenix.

Per, the following players are rumored to be possibly bought out of their contracts, although we are not sure if they will be done prior to March 1:

  • C Khem Birch - Traded from Raptors to Spurs
  • G Svi Mykhailiuk - Traded from Knicks to Hornets
  • F Juan Toscano-Anderson - Traded from Lakers to Jazz
  • F Kevin Knox - Traded from Pistons to Trail Blazers
  • F/C Dario Saric - Traded from Suns to Thunder
  • G R.J. Hampton - Orlando Magic
  • C Richaun Holmes - Sacramento Kings
  • C Nerlens Noel - Detroit Pistons
  • G Furkan Kormaz - Philadelphia 76ers
  • C Alex Len - Sacramento Kings
  • G Derrick Rose - New York Knicks
  • F Thaddeus Young - Toronto Raptors
  • G Cory Joseph - Detroit Pistons

What the Suns have that set them apart from anyone who becomes available is they still have their tax payer mid level exception. This means that they can outbid anyone on the market, a nice little bargaining tool to have as other names become available.

March 1 is the day. The countdown is on. What do you think of the names suggested above? Who is the best fit and why? Or is it Ish or Saben Lee that Jones should sign?

So many questions, so few days left.

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