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Inside the Suns: Getting more draft picks, which Suns free agents to bring back, James Jones

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

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns - Game One Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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. This week I hope you’ll all join me in welcoming frequent BSotS commenter and fellow Suns fan Dan-Fly to a guest seat at the Fantable!

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - A few trade rumors have surfaced that would return a lottery pick in this year’s draft as part of a Deandre Ayton trade. Would getting a draft pick (or picks) back in the trade be an important factor in whether you would want to accept it?

GuarGuar: I think I would only accept it if it’s that #3 pick from Portland. I’m not really interested in acquiring any other pick for DA with this win now roster. Scoot or Brandon Miller both seem like ready to go players so that’s why I’d be ok with either. I would prefer we get some rotational pieces for DA over a pick.

OldAz: No. Not a fan at all of getting draft picks when you are trying to win in a short window. Stay with me on this for a second, but have you every seen a TV show or Movie where someone believes in reincarnation? They always know that they used to be someone famous in a past life. NBA fans are the same way with draft picks. Every future draft pick is “going to be the next (insert name of HOF level player who would really help my preferred team).” This ignores reality and history. Good players in the draft often take a few years to develop, and for every SGA (11) or Book (13), there is a Greg Oden (1), Shawn Bradley (2), or Marvin Bagley Jr (2) that many people thought were “can’t miss” at the time. There are also a lot of decent players drafted but they are really just a few years away from being an Okogie (20), Payne (14), or Shamet (26) anyway.

The draft is a crapshoot. As it relates to the draft it is far better to build a team culture and infrastructure that develops young players. The Suns recently have not done that well at all while a team like the Heat is great at it. The Heat can draft wherever they are slotted or even develop undrafted players. The Suns are better of (at least right now) getting established players that can help now.

Dan-Fly: Getting a lottery pick for Ayton is definitely a great thing but we have to have NBA level players as the number one goal. We don’t know who will be back yet, it’s hard to answer without knowing that. This draft is supposed to be loaded at defensive players. Maybe a Bridges type wing. And we need a Point guard. Draft is a crap shoot so known players are priority unless we get a sure thing which is wishful thinking.

Rod: The Suns have so few 1st rounders left that I’d say that getting a pick or two back in ANY trade would definitely be a plus but not a deal breaker. The player/players returned in the deal are the most important part as the Suns are in win now mode and planning for the future must take the backseat when considering potential trades. With that said, adding a few future picks (even 2nd rounders) would be welcomed if we can possibly get some back in trades.

Q2 - Which Suns players from this past season that will be UFAs this summer do you want the Suns to try and bring back and which ones are most likely to come back for the vet minimum salary?

GuarGuar: My #1 priority to bring back is Jock. He’s an excellent backup big and really hope he stays. I’d be totally ok bringing back Damion Lee, Josh Okogie, and TJ Warren. All these guys produced this year when called upon. I’m not against bringing back Ross either as a microwave scorer but he seemed pretty unplayable in the playoffs unfortunately.

OldAz: This really depends on who the coach is and what trades they make to fill out the roster. That said, size and shooting are always important off the bench so I would not mind seeing Jock and/or Biz back and I think both are in that category where they are not getting much more than vet minimums. Among the Shooters, Damion Lee and TJ were already on a vets minimum. Would love to see one or both of them back, Ross too if he finds that his market is actually in that same range. Finally, Saben Lee is still in the 2-way/minimum range so he would be good as a developmental player. This is a lot of players, but in reality we are talking about the bench and not the top 6-7 that will determine how far the Suns go next year.

Dan-Fly: We need most all of the players back, but in order, Landale, Craig, TJ, if possible Okogie who is only 25, Bismack if DA is gone, Ross as a bench scorer Saben and Damien on two ways would be a plus. I’m greedy but I don’t know if they want the minimum roster for economy or maximum for strength.

Rod: I still like Bismack and Jock as our backup centers and I think Biz likes it in Phoenix enough to return on another minimum deal. Jock is RFA and said he wants to return so I expect him back too, probably with a raise in salary due to the Suns having his early Bird rights.

I’d like to see TJ Warren return but whether he’ll sign for the minimum again is questionable. If he’s offered more elsewhere, I don’t think he’ll be back. I wouldn’t mind bringing Ross back but he’ll certainly get a higher offer by another team. The way Okogie faded offensively at the end of the season, I wouldn’t doubt he might re-sign for around the minimum again but it’s possible that someone else might offer him more to help boost their defense.

I wouldn’t mind bringing back Damion Lee either but his three point shooting last season (44.5%) might get him a better offer from another team. Unless he’s made a better offer, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Saben Lee is back on another two-way deal.

Torrey Craig played much better than I expected last season but is unlikely to take a pay cut and play for the minimum. Thankfully, the Suns have his early Bird rights which means they can offer him more than that if they want him to stay with the team.

You could make a case for bringing back any of them but it would be a mistake to try and keep the entire bench band - or even most of it - together. With a new head coach coming in, I’m sure his evaluations of how those players would fit into his plans for the team will be the determining factor on which players will be given contract offers for 2023/24.

Q3 - Monty Williams is gone and quite a few fans were also calling for James Jones to be fired. Why do you think he has (so far) kept his job?

GuarGuar: I think James is safe given that we acquired both Chris Paul and Kevin Durant on his watch. He’s got some major connections and he’s done a good overall job. We will be contenders next year once again. He’s just got to be a bit better getting that surrounding talent. The past 3 years we were 1-2 pieces away and they were all obvious but he never pulled the trigger.

OldAz: Two theories on this for me, both totally uneducated guesses based on nothing. First, Jones’ dual role as President of Basketball operations leaves room to keep him and replace his GM role if the right opportunity arises. Second, I think Jones was probably honest with Ishbia from the start and advised against the KD move (price too high) but did what Ishbia asked. Smart leaders value someone who will tell them the truth but then get behind a decision once a leader higher up the chain makes it. In this scenario Ishbia would be foolish to get rid of Jones if he is continuing to provide valuable insight but also get with Ishbia’s plans.

Dan-Fly: I think firing both Coach and GM would be too much uncertainty all at once, JJ has Ishbia in his ear, which gives him some control, so it may not be necessary immediately but new ownership usually wants their own people so the future is open. It probably will happen but later rather sooner.

Rod: Jones has made some good moves and some bad/questionable moves but I think the good ones outweigh the bad. Also, we have no idea what moves he made or didn’t make due to Sarver interfering. Ishbia likely knows though and JJ also still has a lot of respect from players around the league which is a plus in attracting free agents.

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

A little Suns offseason History

Since the 2023/24 offseason is almost here and trade talk is already in the air, I thought I’d share this little Suns related story from an old Hoops Hype article by Alex Kennedy entitled This is how NBA trades go down. It’s a good article for anyone wanting a little more insight into how NBA trades actually happen and well worth reading in it’s entirety so I encourage you all to give it a look.

Years ago, an executive believed that he had the necessary pieces to acquire Amar’e Stoudemire from the Phoenix Suns. He wanted to trade for Stoudemire and then flip him to another team because he felt he could get more in return for Stoudemire than Phoenix could. He started calling teams to ask what they’d be willing to trade him if he could get Stoudemire. Well, he accidentally called the Suns and asked what they’d be willing to give up if he could acquire Stoudemire… from the Suns. He offered Phoenix their own player. Needless to say, that executive did not acquire Stoudemire.

Last Week’s poll results

Last week’s question was, “Before next season begins...”

19% - Both DA and CP3 will be playing elsewhere.

23% - DA will be gone but CP3 will still be with Phoenix.

22% - CP3 will be gone but DA will still be with Phoenix.

36% - Both DA and CP3 will still be Phoenix Suns.

A total of 474 votes were cast.

This week’s poll is...


Should Mat Ishbia have "cleaned house" and fired James Jones along with Monty Williams?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    (118 votes)
  • 78%
    (435 votes)
553 votes total Vote Now

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