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The off-season that lies ahead for the Phoenix Suns is littered with tough decisions as James Jones attempts to reset the roster. When you have names like Devin Booker and Kevin Durant on your team, your primary objective is to surround them with talent that will support their abilities and ultimately assist them in winning a championship. Having two top-15 guys on your team is rare. Carpe diem.
What we have witnessed in Phoenix over the past few seasons is unique.
Last season, prior to Jae Crowder announcing that he would not take part in a team activities, the Suns were prepared to run out the same starting five that they had when they went to the 2021 NBA Finals. That would’ve been three consecutive seasons with the same starting five. You just don’t see that these days.
Movement in the NBA is constant, and when you factor in the player empowerment error in which we currently reside, it is rare to have players on your roster for more than three seasons, let alone have the same starting five.
When you look at the fringes of the roster, that is where the majority of the movement occurs. Still, the Suns rostered, Cameron Payne, Dario Saric, and Torrey Craig last season. All three were on the 2020-21 Suns. Eight players – or 53% of the roster – remained intact over a three year period.
The tides are changing, however.
Since the arrival of Mat Ishbia, and in an effort to gain Kevin Durant on the roster, Phoenix traded away three of their core players to the Brooklyn Nets. Saric ended up with the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade for Darius Bazley. Roster turnover, which again is normal throughout the majority of the NBA, has hit Phoenix like a mid-summer monsoon.
Phoenix has seven unrestricted free agents who could potentially leave this off-season.
The question we posed this week for SB Nation Reacts is who you would like to see stay in Phoenix. We did not include Josh Okogie on this list, for I assume he would be the top option. He blossomed as an offensive player, provided unparalleled defensive intensity, and played much bigger than his 6’4” frame. His hustle, grit, and nonstop energy is something no fanbase would readily be prepared to depart with.
That being said, he too, is an unrestricted, free agent. He most likely priced himself out of Phoenix with his efforts this past season.
So who do you want to see stay as a member of the Phoenix Suns? Much akin to Okogie, it’s a high-energy guy in Jock Landale.
Jock Landale provided a spark off the bench for the majority of the season, posting 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. He played in 69 games – starting 4 – and despite his 25 3PT%, his offensive abilities complemented the second team well. In 7 postseason games Landale scored 6.1 points on 63 FG%.
While Bismack Biyombo is a clearly better defender, Jock is a “f**k s**t up” guy. Everybody needs a “f**k s**t up” guy coming off of the bench, Landale’s wild energy fulfilled that need.
Only 2% want Damion Lee back, which is kind of crazy when you think that he was a 44.5% three-point shooter. You want instant offense to come off of the bench. The majority of that three-point success occurred at the front end of the season, however, and his defensive capabilities and foul-heavy nature was detrimental to his success and ultimately cost him playing time.
Make no mistake about it, Damion Lee will find a home somewhere in the NBA. Perhaps, once again, on a veteran minimum, he will find a home.
How James Jones navigates this off-season is going to be exciting. There’s so many moves to make. There’s so many options that he has. Trying to put together the puzzle for the 2023-24 Phoenix Suns is going to be a challenge. But if you could put all the pieces together, if they all fit correctly perfectly, the end result is a championship.
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