Welcome to our free agent target series as we explore potential players the Phoenix Suns can seek out to join their squad entering the 2023-24 season.
The 2022-23 NBA free agency kicks off Friday, June 30th at 6 p.m. ET, and it is no secret that the Phoenix Suns will be the premier destination for proven veteran role players or players attempting to resurrect their careers. Part of this is the willingness to accept a minimum contract to join a contending squad such as Phoenix. Luckily, the Suns are one of the most attractive destinations in the league especially after picking up one of the most elite scorers in the league in three-time All-Star Bradley Beal.
Despite the roster currently sitting at seven total contracted players after the Suns picked up Ish Wainright’s team option on Tuesday, the Suns have had a glaring problem with their roster ever since the Kevin Durant trade this past February. That problem is their wing depth, due to sending out Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Jae Crowder in order to facilitate the move for the superstar.
With the Suns already in the second apron given the fact they’re rumored to be keeping keep Deandre Ayton, they need free agent options that are willing to play for cheap to give themselves the chance to be apart of the elite scoring trio of KD, Book, and Beal. One of these options could be veteran wing, Josh Richardson.
- Position: Shooting Guard and Small Forward
- Vitals: 6’5” tall, 200 pounds, 29 years old
- Experience: 8 years
- Stats (2022-23 regular season with SAS and NOP): 10.1 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.1 STL 43.1/36.5/85.2 splits, 65 GP, 10 starts
- Contract Status: UFA
Richardson, an original Miami Heat second-round draft pick back in 2015 scrapped his way out of the G League into emerging as a promising rookie, even winning the Eastern Conference Rookie of the month. Some scoring outbursts and overall solid play helped lead him into a contract-extension with the team in 2017 for the next four years. During this time, he had his best overall season (2018-19) as a professional averaging 16.6 pts, 3.5 rebs, 4.1 rebs. while adding in a steal a game.
Richardson was traded as part of a deal that sent perennial All-Star Jimmy Butler to Miami where he spent one season in Philadelphia. He played a key role for them during the 2019-20 playoffs in the Orlando Bubble despite getting swept by the Celtics. After his brief stint with Philly, Richardson was traded to the Dallas Mavericks were his production dropped including shooting a career low 33% from three.
Since this time, he has bounced around the league via. trades were he eventually found himself finishing last season for the New Orleans Pelicans where he vastly improved his efficiency from beyond-the-arc, shooting 38.4% on about 4 threes attempted per game.
Richardson will be an unrestricted free agent when things open up on Friday, and it would not surprise me if the veteran gets a lot of looks around the league as a larger guard that can bother opponents on the perimeter. Not to mention, he is an underrated slasher and still only 29.
It will be extremely interesting to see how Vogel and the new Suns coaching staff utilizes three point shooters in the playoffs as well, with the Suns dead last in 3 pointers attempted this previous stretch. I would assume the volume would have to go up, and if we are comparing players to the Champion 2020 Lakers, I think Richardson fits the KCP-type mold.
The Suns could slot Josh Richardson at the role Landry Shamet played last year if his three-point shooting holds up, playing anywhere from 15-20 mins. per game. There will be limited financial flexibility for Phoenix going forward, but with the pull of excitement in the Valley, what role player would not want to prove their worth and potentially win a ring in the process?