The trade deadline is approaching faster than you think, and for the Phoenix Suns, it could be an opportunity to bolster their roster, tie up some loose ends, and address lingering issues for the team. One challenge that Phoenix has, outside of the sheer fact that they do not possess much roster flexibility, is they do not have very many addressable holes on their team.
Or at least glaring holes that need to be corrected.
Simultaneously, seeing as the Big Three have only played together for 64 minutes this season, they haven’t had time to analyze rotations around them to Identify what needs might exist. So holes do exist, but you don’t necessarily know what those holes are because you haven’t had an opportunity to test them as of yet.
Without analyzing what needs to go out — we’ll have plenty of time in the coming days to stack contracts and begin tapping the trade machine until it’s flux capacitor sends in back to 1955 — we need to identify what the Suns need in return. NOt necessarily the player, but the archetype on position.
Your first instinct might say “Hey, you could always use more big depth”. You’re not wrong. It is the NBA, after all.
Jusuf Nurkic has provided quality minutes in his arguably outplaying the man that Phoenix shipped out to get him in Deandre Ayton. In 33 games he’s averaging 12.5 points and 10.2 rebounds, but his fit with the roster — especially with that Big Three — is exactly what James Jones was looking for.
Behind him, both Drew Eubanks and Udoka Azubuike have been serviceable, especially considering their contracts. Eubanks is a veteran minimum player, and Azubuike is a two-way. While neither is elite at any particular skill set, they both are solid at least one. For Eubanks, it’s rim running and for a Udoka it’s rebounding.
If that is the hole that needs to be addressed, there’s not much on the market that Phoenix can bring it to do so. What could you get in return? Either someone who is good at rim running or rebounding.
Phoenix will most likely stick with what they have at that position, utilizing strategic rotations into small-ball five lineups to adjust accordingly. Is this a recipe for a championship? I’m not sure and only time will tell. But based on what the market has, there’s not much that can be done here.
How about at wing?
It’s unfortunate that the Suns gave up Toumani Camara in the deal with the Trail Blazers because he’s exactly what the Suns need coming off the bench. Long, athletic, and with a certain attitude that is hard to replicate. The Suns did receive some of that in return with the addition of Nassir Little, but injury and opportunity have equated to inconsistent success.
Again, I’m unsure what you can find on the open market. Teams aren’t lining up to give their depth up, and I’m not necessarily sure if that is what Phoenix should fortify. This isn’t last year’s team, which was depleted at wing depth following the Kevin Durant trade. Phoenix has the wings, most of which possess desirable length, they just need some more production from them.
Which brings us to probably the biggest hole for Phoenix: point guard.
Since Beals returned to the guard position, he’s provided stabilization that has added to the Suns' playmaking. We’re hearing a lot less of those murmurs from the people who wanted to take victory laps when Phoenix was struggling, noting that it was a point guard that was the situation that was killing them.
But there is merit to the fact that the backup point guard position is still an opportunity for the roster.
Although Jordan Goodwin is a great defensive player and can be utilized in minutes to stop opposing guards, isn’t what you need. You need a true distributor, a change-of-pace guy, someone who could spell both Booker and Beal at the point guard position and effectively run the offense when they sit. You shouldn’t have to rely on Kevin Durant and Jusuf Nurkic, to be your playmakers when those two are not present.
Step one? Done. Identify what you need. Step two? Now that’s the tricky part. Aligning your limited assets to obtain a remedy to that need.
The trade deadline is February 8. The Suns have a month to grease the wheels of the trade machine.
What roster need do you think the Suns should address?
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