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The Phoenix Suns should continue to maximize the two-year contract strategy

Without much draft capital, the Suns need to continue to be flexible where they can.

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Tyler Ross/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are currently in desperate need of a positional upgrade (or two) on the bench, especially when looking at the wing and frontcourt depth. I do not believe the team will be using this deadline to acquire picks and in fact, most likely utilizing any existing draft capital remaining to help upgrade their roster.

Drew Eubanks has shown a ton of promise in the last week or two which could result in regaining the trust of the coaching staff in that true backup center role, with adding 7 PPG and 5.2 RPG in around 20 minutes played at an efficient 94% from the field. However, inconsistencies with the likes of Bol Bol for instance who had some highlight games but was sidelined due to injury could cause Phoenix to deal their hand for another reliable rim protector.

As for wings, the Suns need more shooting combined with playable size that can match larger power forwards. The likes of Keita-Bates Diop and Yuta Watanabe have unfortunately not panned out to the full extent that the front office envisioned.

Josh Okogie on the other hand has shown flashes demonstrating his offensive rebounding ability and scrappiness on the defensive side of the ball. However, teams have actively schemed against him when taking a look at the 26 3PT% on the scouting report, which limits the overall spacing and flow of the offense especially around the Big Three.

A couple of intriguing names off the Suns bench that have shown promise are Chimezie Metu and Nassir Little.

Both are wings that offer different skill sets but may not be able to be as effective in the current Phoenix system. Nassir Little is still only 23 years old and can add value to a rebuilding team by being highly athletic and having a ton of potential to keep flourishing in his offensive game.

Metu however, has had his impact on the team, being a staple in the rotation outside the first month or so of the season and playing minutes both at the four and five. At 6’10”, he demonstrates a plethora of matchup problems for defenses (including a 23 PTS, 19 REB performance versus the Mavericks on Christmas Day). He is especially effective when he is shooting the ball well from three, which has not consistently been the case this season at 29.4% from beyond the arc.

Therefore, I would say anyone with some value and being able to maximize the two-year contract strategy that Mat Ishbia and the front office implemented for more financial flexibility with tradable contracts will be on the block. That includes the likes of Okogie, Metu, and Little.

Grayson Allen is a name that immediately comes to mind, but I do not believe the Suns will (or should) move him as he has been too dominant as a shooter and a very viable fourth option when the offense is stagnant with the Big Three. Contract extension talks should be in the works before Allen hits UFA this Summer, with the Suns being wise to utilize his bird rights to offer a larger multi-term deal.

A few names that the Suns will most likely look at include longer wings with a capable three-ball such as Brooklyn’s Royce O’ Neale who is having a down year statistically but has shown in the past being right around a 39% three-point shooter his whole career. He also has familiarity playing with Kevin Durant, meaning he knows what spots to be in when KD is looking to dish.

Another wing that could be realistically traded for is Kenyon Martin, Jr. Although he does not bring a shooting element, Martin, Jr. would give the Suns a larger forward who could even play some small ball five in situations. He is not seeing a ton of minutes on the Philadelphia 76ers at the moment, but he was a capable starter on the 2022-23 Rockets in starting 49 of them averaging 12.7 PPG and 57.2% from the field.

The elephant in the room is Miles Bridges, who the Suns have been linked to, especially with Michigan State connections between Mat Ishbia.

Bridges would be a great fit on paper with adding size and athleticism that the existing bench lacks, but the intangibles of being suspended and having to be reinstated by the league after a domestic violence charge could complicate things in terms of a culture standpoint. In addition, Bridges has a no-trade clause, meaning he would have to approve any deal that the Hornets involve him in.

The fifth-year pro is averaging 20.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG on an efficient 55.9% TS%. Another trade candidate from the same team that the Suns have also been linked to is Nick Richards, who would add rim protection and verticality to the frontcourt. Richards is on an impressive stretch averaging a 15 & 10 double-double in the last 5 games on a whopping 76% from the field.

The countdown to the trade deadline is on. We have a week until we know what moves, if any, Phoenix ends up making.

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