The whirlwind that was Free Agency 2023 had us engaged with the future, anxiously checking our feeds to see who was next to join the 2023-24 Phoenix Suns and help build around a Devin Booker/Kevin Durant/Bradley Beal/Deandre Ayton core. Notifications were pinging our mobile devices like an ex who really had something to say. With every new addition, a former member of the team would not be returning.
Many of those players have yet to be signed by other NBA teams in any capacity. Is that a fortification that they were clearly the wrong fit for the 2022-23 squad? They are so past their prime that no one wants to bring them in on a veteran minimum? Does no one need wily veterans in the locker room anymore, teaching young players the ways of the Association?
It feels strange to do a “where are they now” segment on players who literally were a part of the organization just three months ago, but that is what we’re looking at. Who played a part in the script of last season and why no one has shot them a text to bring them in.
Center, 6’8”, 255 pounds, 31-years old
Bizzy is a quality backup big man who plays much larger than his 6’8” frame. With a 7’6” wingspan, the Congo native provided plenty of defensive shot deterrence and made things hard for anyone who entered the paint.
he challenge with Bismack is he is a one-side-of-the-ball player. His offense left much to be desired. If the Suns could some how take his skill set and infuse them with who Jock Landale was, you’d have a viable NBA center.
When hack-a-Bizzy became the opposing gameplan, you knew his days would be numbered in the offseason. Still, with the addition of Frank Vogel at head coach — someone who loves a defensively-minded big man — you could make a case for him to stay rostered. With James Jones spending money like an 18-year old with their first credit card, however, the organization chose to go with Drew Eubanks, Bol Bol, Chimezie Metu, and Udoka Azubuike to fill in the minutes behind Deandre Ayton.
Perhaps it is the lack of offensive output that has Biyombo still on the market. He was in the 6%tile in rim shot creation and 40%tile in finishing talent, per B-Ball Index. Not exactly numbers that make you salivate. Even as someone who excels on the defensive end, offense is a must in the league.
Some Lakers fans are interested in Bizzy, which would make another former member of this team playing in the Pacific Division.
Lakers have got their McGee (Hayes), Kieff (Rui), Kuz (Wood), Caruso (Vando)-— Lakers Legacy (@LakersLegacyPod) September 16, 2023
But they don’t have their Dwight Howard yet.
If they ever look to fill that 15th spot w/ that Long Wingspanned, Bruising Big-
I’d look at:
• Bismack Biyombo
• Charles Bassey*
• Neemias Queta… pic.twitter.com/aAQ4zljw59
Wing, 6’6”, 206 pounds, 32-years old
When the Suns were in need of some instant offense off the bench in the buyout market, it was The Human Torch who came to the rescue. Opting to sign with Phoenix rather than the Dallas Mavericks, Terrence Ross joined the Suns and scored 16 points in his first game with the Suns. In 21 games played, he scored in double digits 9 times and helped steady the boat when Kevin Durant tweaked his ankle and was out.
He averaged 9 points on 42.8/34.7/85.7 splits during the regular season, highlighted by a 30 point performance against the Sacramento Kings.
Come playoff time, however, Monty Williams strayed away from players who could score. In 69 total postseason minutes, Ross scored 22 total points and was 6-of-22 (27.3%) from deep.
Phoenix filled his roster spot by resigning the sharpshooting Damion Lee and Yuta Watanabe, and no one has brought the 32-year old onto their team. Shooting is transferable, and you must ponder if Ross has had offers but is looking for a team with title aspirations. He’s made six trips to the postseason — three with the Toronto Raptors from 2013-16, two with the Orlando Magic from 2018-20, and last season with the Suns — and as the twilight of his career is upon him, he may be seeking a contender.
In the meantime, Ross in hitting the sticks on NBA2K, wearing a Lakers jersey, and talking video game junk.
Wing, 6’8”, 220 pounds, 30-years old
The KD trade brought more than a generational superstar to the Valley, it brought and old friend and 14th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Suns back home. T.J. Warren was a throw in to the trade, and in 16 games played with Phoenix, it was clear why.
Prior to coming back to Phoenix, Warren had averaged 9.2 points and 2.6 rebounds with the Brooklyn Nets in 26 games. He shot a respectable 33.3% from beyond the arc on 1.8 attempts per game and was a solid bench player for the team. In Phoenix, however, those numbers dropped. 4.2 points, 31.6% from deep, and not many highlights to show. Part of that was due to lack of opportunity, and part of that was due to a diminishing skillset of a player plagued by injuries throughout his career.
He had back-to-back games against the Kings and Philadelphia 76ers in which he scored 15 and 16 points, respectively. But that was all War Machine had left in the tank. There aren’t many of them, but here is a highlight:
He scored just 16 points in the postseason.
Warren’s availability is much more understandable due to the simple fact that he is not elite at any one skill. T.J. is an average shooter, below average three-point shooter, and below average defender. He lacks extensive playoff experience — he’s played a total 10 games in the postseason in his 8 year career — and when you look at the list of free agents available, it is hard to see how a team would think his presence is the missing piece of their puzzle.
Guard, 6’1”, 183 pounds, 29-years old
This one is somewhat cheating as Payne was recently released by the San Antonio Spurs following being traded by Phoenix.
The Spurs acquired a future second-round pick and $5.6M for Payne in the July trade. Spurs have several young guards on roster that they’re building around now. Payne had a 31-point game vs. Nuggets in Game 6 of Western Semifinals. https://t.co/dVwjE1D292— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 11, 2023
The above three players were unrestricted free agents who no one has signed, whereas Payne was traded for two future second round picks. Still, is a member of the 2022-23 Suns who is currently without a team.
Payne was an aspirational story, a guy who came to the Suns to play in the Orlando Bubble of 2020 when Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Aron Baynes would not. He thrived in the 2021 postseason and seamlessly spelled COVID Chris Paul in the Western Conference Finals. Injuries plagued him in 2021-22 and 2022-23 as he played a total of 106 of 164 games.
Phoenix acquired Jordan Goodwin in the Bradley Beal deal, which spelled the end of the Payne Era as he appears to be a younger version of CP15 with a better defensive skillset.
Cameron, a career 36.3% three-point shooter, should soon find a home for he is an ideal backup for any team. Don’t get your hopes up, as it won’t be with Phoenix. As Dave King stated, “Could he re-sign with the Suns? Even if they could (they cannot for one year), they wouldn’t. The Suns not only traded him, but they paid the Spurs almost his entire salary AND threw in a second round pick. So I don’t think they want him back. They’ve have basically replaced his minutes with Jordan Goodwin, who is younger and provides more value on the defensive end, and a little bit of Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.”
Our last memory of Cameron Payne? In true competitive fashion, he was the only guy to give two poops in Game 6 against the Denver Nuggets as the Suns were eliminated from the playoffs.
When 26.7% of your 15-man roster from a season ago has yet to ink a deal with any team, it makes you ponder. We knew depth was an issue last season and it was tested ad nauseum. Despite placing number one on teams impacted by players lost to injury, the team was the fourth overall seed in the Western Conference.
NBA top 5, impact on teams by players lost to injury (Lost-vorp metric, lost value over replacement player)— Man Games Lost NBA (@ManGamesLostNBA) March 16, 2023
The depth the Suns possessed was clearly an area of concern for James Jones as he constructed the 2023-24 squad. The jury is still out and time will tell if his strategy this season will be effective. Last year he filled the bench with veterans. This year it is rostered by younger players looking to use this run to catapult their NBA success. And Eric Gordon.
We’ll continue to support these former Suns wherever they end up, although I’m not sure if Mat Ishbia will hook us all up with streaming packages to watch overseas basketball. Yet.