Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns. (Formerly called Center of the Sun)
“The Phoenix Suns will never be able to get Kevin Durant without losing Devin Booker in the deal.”
On February 9, the Phoenix Suns acquired Kevin Durant without trading any of their top three players.
“But now they’re too top heavy. Chris Paul is declining, and too old to get anything good in return. They might just release him for nothing.”
In June, the Suns acquired All-Star Bradley Beal for Chris Paul, giving the Suns a trio of multi-time All-Stars in Durant, Booker and Beal.
“But now they’re REALLY stuck. They only have six players under contract and will have to trade Ayton to fill out a playoff-level rotation.”
On June 30, the Suns signed five new free agents to upgrade the middle and back end of the rotation. Their 5th+ guys are better now than the group who played in the 2023 playoffs.
“Okay fine they’re really good. But ha-HA, boy are they screwed in three or four years without any draft picks—”
Except, the Suns already have four firsts in the next seven years and, on July 5, they traded their 16th man for three future second round picks. They now have seven draft picks in the next seven years (firsts in 2024, 2026, 2028 and 2030; seconds in 2025, 2028 and 2030) plus 23-year old Toumani Camara from the 2023 draft and, as I showed above, a handful of developmental prospects who can outplay their contracts.
“But...well... uhh... the picks they traded are better than the ones they kept. In John Hollinger’s words, the Suns’ 2028 and 2030 pick swaps could be “massively valuable” to other teams!”
Sigh. Hello people. Are we not paying attention yet?
The Phoenix Suns have no intention of losing enough games again to make their own first round pick a ‘savior’ pick. They just simply won’t do it. After making at least the second round of the playoffs the last three years, while trading picks that would have been 29th, 30th and 21st in the first round, the Suns would rather just keep acquiring new All-Stars than tank for high draft picks.
In just the last six months, while keeping their two best young players (Booker and Ayton), the Suns have acquired two new All-Stars and upgraded the rest of the roster, including seven players age 26 or younger (will be eight if Bol Bol signs on too), while keeping a handful of future draft picks in the back pocket.
The Suns are better today than the 64-win team a year ago. Better than the 2021 Finals team, on pure talent at least. So why would analysts and media just assume the Suns will quietly regress into oblivion?
“The Suns new owner will certainly stop spending so much when he gets the tax bill.”
He won’t stop spending. He will just keep pushing, and that means spending whatever it takes to build a contender every year.
“Okay fine, but there’s a limit now. Those massive big-spender penalties will cripple owners like Ishbia, Ballmer (Clippers) and Lacob (Warriors) in the coming years.”
This one we don’t quite know the answer to yet. If you fast forward a few years, the Durant trade and Beal trades would no longer be allowed the way they happened this past year. Second-apron teams, starting 2024+, cannot aggregate smaller salaries into bigger ones, and cannot bring back more salary than they trade out.
So maybe that’s one reason why the Suns were so aggressive to get these big salaries right now. They’ve done all their trading-up before it becomes disallowed. They now have four huge salaries that can be used in the coming years, like Chris Paul’s was a few weeks ago, to get younger, longer-contracted All-Stars as these guys fade out.
This year, the Suns also figured out how to maximize the use of minimum-salary deals, which is all the biggest spenders have to offer. They made it more attractive to the players by offering a second-year player option as job security, and that got them their targets early in free agency.
These are only a couple of probably two handfuls of ways the big-spending teams will be able to keep contending even as they keep spending. No, we won’t see any more Warriors or Clippers doubling up other teams in payroll and tax. But we will see smart teams being able to roster three All-Stars, exceed the second apron, and still thrive.
Now, check out links, quotes of the week and final thoughts on a new way the Suns could add an above-minimum salary player in free agency.
The Summer team lost their opener on Saturday night, but likely Suns roster players Jordan Goodwin (third-year vet, from the Wizards trade) and Toumani Camara (second round draft pick) looked really good, especially in the first half.
The game didn’t look ‘too fast’ for rookie Camara, who finished with 20 points (8-13 shooting) and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes.
Jordan Goodwin showed his supreme effort level on both ends to get the team off on the right foot. He played only 18 minutes, most of it in the first half, finishing with 12 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, before leaving with a sore knee in the third quarter.
Here’s some highlights of the game.
The Suns made one trade this past week: sending 16th man Isaiah Todd (the worst player with a guaranteed contract on the roster) and secondary pick-swaps in 2024 and 2030 to the Memphis Grizzlies for three second-round picks (2025, 2028 and 2029).
As I said above, the Suns now have picks in 2024 (1st), 2025 (2nd), 2026 (1st), 2028 (1st and 2nd), 2029 (2nd) and 2030 (1st) before getting back to normal from there on (2 per year). Those first round picks are all committed as ‘pick swaps’ with Brooklyn or Washington. If those teams finish with better records, they can choose to swap their pick with the Suns’. But a pick is a pick, and the Suns will be picking in those years.
Here’s the current roster. The only commitment who hasn’t physically signed the new contract yet is Josh Okogie, who was recently seen on vacation overseas. Hopefully, the delay is only around his travel schedule.
Bol Bol Rumors?
Apparently, the Suns are looking at Bol Bol. While they already have 15 players on contract, teams can keep up to 21 players on the roster into training camp in October, but would eventually have to get down to 15 by opening night.
On the plus side, Bol is 23 and still figuring out his skillset, while flashing good talent on-ball and off-ball. He’s a highlight waiting to happen. Five seconds searching on YouTube will produce a handful of tantalizing highlight reels of a dude who’s 7’2” with the ball skills of a guard.
On the bad side, he will be joining his fourth team in the last two years. At just 22 on a minimum-salary deal, he was traded from the Nuggets to the Celtics in January 2022, from the Celtics to the Magic in February 2022, and now has been released by the Magic in July 2023. Rumor has it Bol doesn’t always follow the game plan set by the coaching staff, making him unpredictable on the court.
The Phoenix Suns are frontrunners to sign free agent Bol Bol, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Rival teams are expecting Bol to sign in near future with the Suns, who have deepened their roster this offseason. pic.twitter.com/vZz1FCPFUu— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 8, 2023
Links around the web
AZCentral - Five takeaways from the Suns opening loss in Summer League
ArizonaSports - Dario Saric signs with Warriors
The Athletic - Suns winning free agency
Can the Suns give us a desert version of (the 2022 Warriors’ offseason additions like Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr.)? It seems possible after some of the best minimum contract work in memory, a haul that could make even the Warriors’ summer 2021 group pale in comparison. The Suns agreed to deals with seven players on minimum (or essentially minimum) contracts in the first 48 hours of free agency, and what stood out about the signings was that they were of a much higher quality than usually seen at this pay grade.
ArizonaSports - Goodwin exits with left knee soreness. He played only 18 minutes, leaving early in the third quarter.
Quotes of the Week
“I think I showed that I belong in this league. Small details I need to pay more attention to and really lock in like boxing out and stuff like that.” — Toumani Camara, after scoring 20 points in Summer League debut
“We used him as a Swiss Army knife. We showed he can bring the ball up the court, showed he can play a little five, DHO (dribble handoff), he can do a bunch of different things. I think his first showing in the NBA was really good.” — Suns assistant coach, Quinton Crawford, on how they used Camara in game one
“I think it was trying to establish me early, playing inside and outside. Just being present and taking the right option.” — Camara, on getting 11 points, 5 rebounds in the first quarter
“He’s a wonderful screener. He knows how to hip, tap and roll and get behind the defense and put a lot of pressure on that rim.” — Crawford on Camara.
Important Future Dates
July 7-17: NBA Summer League (Las Vegas).
July 13: Last day for teams to unilaterally withdraw qualifying offers to restricted free agents.
August TBD: NBA schedule released.
August 31: Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2023-24 salaries.
September 5: Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks; those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered.
Late September: (specific dates TBA) Training camps open.
October 24: 2023-24 NBA season begins.
This week’s poll — the Christian Wood version
For some reason, Christian Wood is still an unrestricted free agent. Wood, a 6’10” PF/C, was arguably the Mavericks second most talented player last year, averaging 16.6 points (including 37% on threes) and 7.3 rebounds. But he never grabbed a full-time starting spot, lost minutes after the All-Star break and now Dallas doesn’t even want him back.
Wood is now a 7-year NBA veteran with career averages of 14.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but has played for seven teams across those seven seasons and was completely out of the league in his age-22 season.
He’s looking for a new contract with a new team, but has reportedly only been offered minimum-salary deals despite just now entering his athletic prime.
Should the Suns sign Christian Wood, if he will take a minimum-salary deal?
This poll is closed
Yes! He would be the best big man behind Deandre Ayton
No! There’s a reason he’s been released by several teams already in his career