Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Hey! Wake up! Do some stretching exercises. Put those purple and orange clothes through the laundry. Get the foam fingers, crazy glasses and face paint out of the closet. And start really investigating that digital receiver thing the Suns are offering to watch their games for free.
Because Suns basketball is almost back, babyyyyyyy! Media Day is next Monday, training camp starts Tuesday and the preseason starts a few short days after that.
Let’s take a moment to reflect.
Four days before the Suns dispersed for the summer, Devin Booker cemented his incredible playoff run (33.7 points per game on 58% shooting, 7.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals) with a Game 4 masterpiece to pull the heavily under-manned Phoenix Suns to a 2-2 series tie in the second round of the 2023 Playoffs.
Booker scored 47 points on 80% shooting in front of Suns fans that night, adding 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a block in the win. Teammate Kevin Durant scored 39 points with 9 rebounds and 8 assists of his own.
But the Suns were just a two-man team by that time. Chris Paul was lost in Game 2. No one besides Booker or Durant scored more than 7 points in that Game 4 win. Ayton, their third leading scorer, went down in Game 6. The Suns were toast.
Now they come back for a new season and most of that roster and coaching staff have been turned over.
Are the Suns any better? Yep. With this year’s roster and coaching staff, would Round 2 have played out any differently? Nope. If injuries happen the same (i.e. Paul/Beal go down in Game 2 and Ayton goes down in Game 6), the Suns are still toast against a rolling Nuggets.
But when you look up and down the roster, you have to see a better team now. The following chart is sorted by minutes played in the 2023 playoffs. Yes, Landry Shamet indeed got the 5th most minutes in the 2023 Playoffs!
The Suns are clearly better at least in four spots over last year’s playoff team, with the jury still out on the other positions. Torrey Craig was great in 2022-23, but it’s hard to say Keita Bates-Diop won’t at least match those numbers if given the same minutes right?
So, I believe this year’s team is better than what finished last year, which was better than the team before the trade deadline because of Kevin freaking Durant.
And I can’t want for this year’s Media Day, if only for the fact that the questions will be about the possibilities of the coming year rather than ‘the saddest Media Day one reporter had ever attended’.
Quote of the Week
Sorry, couldn’t find any worthy ones. Everything’s quiet before the next storm rolls through.
Suns around the web
Devin Booker’s car collection is massively impressive — Sportskeeda
Toronto is a serious threat for Damian Lillard, and once again, the Suns are right in the middle of it all as the team that could get things over the finish line. If and when something happens, we'll be all over it @PHNX_Suns @PHNX_Sports https://t.co/1D4ogOZm1O— FLEX From Jersey (@FlexFromJersey) September 25, 2023
Read all the detail on Ayton possibly getting shipped out here — PHNX / Gerald Bourget and Flex from Jersey
If you don’t believe Flex, maybe you believe Gambo (local radio host and Suns insider John Gambadoro)...
Let me address some of the Deandre Ayton rumors. The Suns have not been willing to move DA all summer because they think he fits well and there were no offers that would change that. If Nurkic was on the table I would be surprised if the Suns didn't look into it because an— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) September 21, 2023
Here’s the whole article on Suns trade possibilities — Gambo
Good Bright Side reads you probably missed
Each week I’ll highlight some Bright Side articles that didn’t get as many eyeballs as they should have. It’s worth your time to give these unique takes a look before they’re lost in the ether forever.
- One key factor for each Suns player this year — by the whole damm Bright Side staff, compiled into one quick article
- You can watch Suns games this season too! — The story on giveaways of free digital TV receivers to watch Suns games! Games will be televised on free cable for the first time in 20 years
- Betting on the Suns — here’s a great guide, by SoSaysJ
Here’s the salary chart in case you need it. Players in green CANNOT be traded until at least December 15 (for standard contract signed over summer) if ever (two-ways).
Who can be traded? The Big Four + the little three.
And here’s the bottom line.
It doesn’t matter how close they look to the line, the Suns will be over the second apron this coming year. Teams must give NBA-level contracts to at least 14 players a year, and the Suns are already over the second apron at 13 guaranteed players this year and will be over the second apron NEXT year too, at with 10 guaranteed players already on the books.
During this coming season, while being over the second apron, the Suns:
- cannot sign any high-salary buyout guys
- cannot acquire > 10% more salary than they send out in any trades
That means no more Terrence Ross signings after the trade deadline, and no more Durant and Beal trades the way they were done in bringing back significantly more salary.
If you think that’s tough, next year it gets tougher. If they remain over the second apron as projected after the last day of this coming season, the Suns:
- cannot pay more than league minimum for free agents from another team
- cannot trade the “seven years out” first round pick (2031)
- cannot acquire any players in sign-and-trade
- cannot send out cash in any trades
- cannot take back ANY more salary than they send out
- can only do one-for-one trades for salary-matching purposes (no salary aggregation of multiple players)
If they remain over the second apron twice in the following four years (i.e. three of five), starting NEXT season:
- those future frozen draft picks are moved to the END of the first round (they can later be unfrozen if the team gets below the second apron 3 out of 4 years)
In short, trades get tough for the teams over the second apron, including the Suns, Celtics, Nuggets and Clippers (This list only leaves out the Warriors and Bucks because Klay Thompson and Jrue Holiday are merely Bird Rights free agents until they re-sign).
Important Future Dates
- Oct. 2: Media Day!
- Oct. 3: Training camp opens for teams like the Suns, who stay in the States for preseason
- Oct. 5: Start of preseason
- Oct. 20: End of preseason
- Oct. 24: Start of 2023-24 regular season; Suns are @ the Warriors on NBA’s Opening Night on TNT to help open the 2023-24 NBA season.
- Nov. 3: NBA In-Season Tournament begins
- Dec. 7: NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals
- Dec. 9: NBA In-Season Tournament Finals
- Feb 8: Trade Deadline
- Feb. 16-18: NBA All-Star Weekend 2024
- April 14: 2023-24 regular season ends
This week’s poll
Does Ayton start training camp in a Phoenix Suns uniform?
This poll is closed