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.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - Frank Vogel... opinions... Go!
GuarGuar: I’m fine with the Vogel hire. He’s a big time upgrade defensively from Monty. His knock has always been his offense. I wanted Kevin Young to be our coach so I am absolutely thrilled that he’s staying on as a lead assistant. Seems like the best possible outcome given the circumstances. Frank shouldn’t be afraid to double team star players unlike Monty. Overall I’m satisfied with this hire.
OldAz: Among the final 3, Vogel was my first choice but only because I did not want Rivers. For one, I think people tended to forget the really good work he put in with Indiana. His defensive acumen is getting a lot of attention now as well, and the Suns really played their best when they were locked in at that end of the floor the last couple years. Also, my concerns with KY as the head coach were his relationship with Booker. Book is the unquestioned leader of this team on the floor, but he is not perfect. He sometimes falls into bad habits that impact the rest of the team. I am always leery that any coach selected by a player would be able to effectively hold that player accountable.
Vogel has already shown that he can win with a top heavy team including some big name stars. Hopefully (despite being known as player friendly) this means that he can make sure the leaders stay focused on team basketball. Also, keeping KY is a huge win as many things the Suns have done offensively the last few years have been successful. Hopefully, this coaching combination works well next year as the window is small and I think KY gets his own gig if the team does have success.
Rod: I’m good with the choice of Vogel. I honestly wasn’t excited with any of the possible choices that were floating around but I like Vogel’s focus on defense. What I am moderately excited about are the additions of Kevin Young and David Fizdale to his coaching staff. Between the three of them, I think the Suns will be well coached this season.
I really like his philosophy of being “scrappy as hell” on the court and hope the team will embrace that. He also sounds like a coach who’s going to lean on his staff as well as lead. I think that might be a big factor that got him the job, his willingness to listen to other voices and be open to their advice/suggestions.
Q2 - Some fans believe that the hiring of Vogel is likely a sign that the Suns are NOT likely going to trade Deandre Ayton. Do you agree or disagree with this?
GuarGuar: Honestly I still think DA is gonna be gone. There’s too many people frustrated with him and it really looks like he doesn’t want to be here. Maybe Monty was the issue I don’t know, but it looks to me like it’s something more. Him coming back to that 2021 playoff form would be outstanding for us but I just don’t see it happening at this point.
OldAz: I think it is still 50/50 that DA gets traded and both sides make good arguments, even if they are not different from the old arguments. For those desperate to ditch DA, they are convinced that Vogel wants a “true” rim protector and that Young already knows that DA “cannot be fixed”. The assumptions behind this opinion align with their own perspective and no amount of debate is likely to change their minds. Likewise, those who still see value, talent and potential in DA believe that the change in coaching staff and philosophy could “unlock” DA and get him to what we all hope and expect he can become. Likewise, these people believe Young knows how to better use DA on offense but was being kept from doing those things with Monty.
To be fair, I don’t know who is right in this case but I am hoping they keep DA. To me team defense is the most important and DA is a valuable piece that Vogel can build around. I would still entertain trade offers, but would absolutely not give him away for a couple back of the rotation players (say 5-8 on the roster) even with a draft pick. DA is a versatile and good defender even without gaudy block numbers, has the ability to match up 1:1 with the top big men in the league (for more than 5-10 minutes a game), and can still put up 18/10 on 60% shooting. In fact, there were times last year he was doing significantly more than that, and not just when Book and CP3 were out. It is safe to assume that 18/10 is DA’s “floor” at this point. With a new system, new voices in his ear, and some time to get comfortable, it is entirely possible he can take a jump from there.
Rod: I really don’t see it meaning much in regard to DA staying or going. I’m still of the opinion that if the Suns get a really good trade offer for him, they will make the trade. It might have some effect on whether they actively shop him though. If Vogel thinks he can get better production from DA, the front office might not go out looking for trades for DA although they would certainly listen to any offers that other GM’s made for him. If that’s the case, I think DA only gets traded in the offseason if it’s clearly a winning trade for the Suns.
Q3 - If the Suns decide to keep DA AND CP3, they won’t have any significant trade assets this offseason. Do you believe it’s possible for them to still build a contending team under those circumstances?
Author’s Note: This question was asked before Chris Haynes indicated that CP3 would be waived before his salary would become fully guaranteed on 6/28/2023.
GuarGuar: I mean as long as we have Durant and Booker healthy we will be a contending team. And if we keep CP and DA and make marginal moves we will have a shot at the title. Now I don’t think we would be the favorite if we did this, so it’s in our best interest to shake things up some. We can’t rely on Chris Paul to be our starting point guard anymore. He’s shown he can’t be relied upon when it matters. He’s going to be 39 years old come playoff time next season. I want to deal CP more than I want to deal DA. Im not against dealing DA though for solid rotation pieces, especially if his effort is going to remain poor.
OldAz: I may be in the minority here. Yes, I do think this is a viable option, but only if there are no takers to unload CP3s contract. Keeping CP3 and DA maintains 4 top players among the starters and leaves the team only 4 rotation positions to fill (instead of 6) with Payne and Shamet as options (or trade chips more likely) and also the ability to keep Bazley. I would go hard at resigning Okogie and Jock and then try to find a couple shooters who can at least stay on the floor on the defensive end. The biggest key here will be diversifying the offense so that they are not dependent on CP3 staying healthy to be effective. This should NOT be hard considering they would have a full year to work with KD, Book is still so versatile, and they should absolutely not be dependent on CP3 to use DA effectively in the 2 man game.
Rod: It’s certainly possible but the Suns would need to nail the offseason recruitment of minimum salary vets to fill out the roster and use their taxpayer MLE wisely. Contrary to what some say, although CP3 is not the player he once was he isn’t a washed up shell either. As they have their early Bird rights, the Suns can afford to bring back Craig, Landale and Biyombo with fair salary increases without having to use the TPMLE.
From there it comes down to how well they can fill out the rest of the roster with solid vets willing to play for the minimum. It’s probably also going to help a at least a little that team will be able to carry up to 3 players on two-way contracts this season. Jones has already proven to be able to find good value there, possibly because players know that they’re going to be spending all of their time with the big team rather than playing in the G League.
Ultimately, I believe it would mostly depend upon whether Vogel and the new coaching staff can work some magic with DA and unleash all the potential we’ve seen in him though.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Last Week’s poll results
Last week’s question was, “Would the Suns have done better in the playoffs this season if they had NOT made the trade for KD?”
57% - Yes.
43% - No.
A total of 429 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
What should the Suns do with Chris Paul?
This poll is closed
Waive him and stretch the remaining value of his contract.
Waive him and then re-sign him at the vet minimum. *
Keep him on the team under his present contract.
* This would cost the Suns approximately $18 million for one additional season.