The NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone. There were no blockbuster deals across the Association as teams focused on their fringes rather than an upheaval and influx of new premium talent. The Phoenix Suns were no different, primarily due to second-apron constraints, as they reset their bench unit with a confident veteran and a physical hybrid wing.
James Jones and his team were astute in navigating the deadline, knowing that this would be the last season they could aggregate contracts under second apron restrictions. Starting next year, they will not have that option. Using four veteran minimum deals, they stacked them to get a rotational player in Royce O’Neale who (hopefully) will bring stability to the second-team unit.
The post-deadline grades for how the Suns operated have been positive:
Zach Harper, The Atheltic: The Suns (31-21, fifth in West) desperately needed a proper 3-and-D option on the wing, so they ended up getting Royce O’Neale for a pu pu platter of minimum-salary role players. And they’re set up for the buyout market with open roster spots.
Sam Quinn, CBS Sports: B+. Give the Suns credit. They more or less exhausted all of their draft capital in landing Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, but they got creative in squeezing out a few more assets knowing that they’d need help at the deadline. Throughout the offseason, they picked up spare second-round picks here and there by offering swap rights on top of swap rights they’d already traded, essentially dooming their first-round pick prospects for the foreseeable future, but also giving them just enough left in the cupboard to land a viable 3-and-D wing in Royce O’Neale at the deadline. Phoenix is fully in all-in mode, so as desperate as its future might look, it did a far better job of actually achieving its goal than it looked like it would be able to.
Dan Favale, Bleacher Report: A+. Snagging O’Neale for second-round picks and minimum contracts without including one of your two best salary-matching assets (Grayson Allen or Nassir Little) is, in no uncertain terms, a home run for the Suns. They won’t have the ability to aggregate salaries starting this offseason. Taking advantage of it now, while preserving more useful standalone salaries, is good housekeeping.
As mentioned above, the Suns not only added a quality player in O’Neale, but in doing so — by sending four players out and receiving just two back — they opened up two roster spots. Those roster spots will be filled one of two ways:
- By signing one (or two) of their three two-way contracted players (Saben Lee, Udoka Azubuike, and/or Theo Maledon)
- By looking at players available in a rich buyout market and signing them to the team.
The buyout market. Every year contenders must sift through the players whose teams either couldn't trade or chose to waive, hoping to find a diamond in the rough. Buyout guys typically don’t move the needle much. When was the last time a team picked up someone else’s discards and it was the missing piece to a championship contender? Boris Diaw in 2012?
I’m simply setting the stage. Phoenix needs two players to fill out their roster, and there are actually some decent buyout guys out there on the market. Phoenix is an appealing destination for obvious reasons as well, so — as long as they didn’t make over $12.4 million this season — the Suns may have their pick of the bunch.
Before we get to the point as to who the Suns will pursue, the first question should be what positional need the team now has. Did anything change or do the same positional needs still exist?
The team has had holes throughout the season, from secondary playmaking ability to poor offensive rebounding and three-point shooting from the second-team unit. Moving off of three wings and a backup point guard hurts the overall depth, but the addition of both O’Neale and Roddy assists in some of these areas.
Prior to the trade deadline, Bright Side readers believed it was point guard play that needed to be addressed.
Now that we are on the other side of the deadline, and knowing the Suns did not pursue a point guard in any capacity, is that still a need for the team?
This poll was taken over a month ago, occurring on January 7. The Suns were 19-17 at the time, with a blowout loss against the Los Angeles Clippers fresh in our minds. Now? Phoenix has gone 12-4 since that point and the integration of Bradley Beal into the fold with the Big Three feels much more seamless.
We’ve seen Frank Vogel’s strategy of having one member of the Big Three on the court at all times, and with the emergence of both Jusuf Nurkic and Grayson Allen having the ability to playmaker as well, we’re hearing less and less of “The Suns need a traditional point guard” talk.
So have a couple of questions for you to ponder as we enter the buyout market season.
What is your biggest concern (outside of health) with the Suns?
This poll is closed
Other (let us know below)
What roster need should the Suns address via the buyout market?
This poll is closed
Other (let us know below)