We are now on the other side of the trade deadline. Whew. Always a crazy day, especially when you’re in the mix of teams looking to be a buyer. It’s time to take a deep breath and look at what happened and how it affects the Phoenix Suns moving forward.
Despite a limited number of available assets, Suns’ general manager James Jones was able to pull some strings and improve the roster. Yes, improve.
I know, I know. Some of you have emotional connections to the fringe guys. You put your line in the sand this past summer and said, “Yuta Watanabe is MY guy! He’s what will push this team over the top!”. I get it. Let it go, man. He was here for six months and played in 29 games.
There was plenty of hype this past July as free agency began. The Suns, who had recently acquired Bradley Beal to pair with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, didn’t have many bullets in the chamber. The majority of the acquisitions that they made were out of necessity. But the players that they brought in were young, athletic, “prove it” type of players.
The problem is, given their opportunity this season, they didn’t prove it.
The Suns bench has been bad this season. There’s been no consistency from their second-team unit, which puts more strain on the superstars. The superstars get paid a lot of money to perform, but you need to give them a rest. Or they will break down. It would be best if you had some organization and confidence coming in as a part of your substitution patterns.
Phoenix bench this season?
- 27.4 points (last)
- 46.2 FG% (15th)
- 29.7 3PT% (last)
- 15.1 rebounds (15th)
- 5.4 assists (last)
- -42 plus/minus (22nd)
That is why, contrary to all of the belief that we had in Yuta Watanabe, Jordan Goodwin, Keita Bates-Diop, and Chimezie Metu this past off-season when acquired, the Suns utilized them in a trade to gain Royce O’Neale from the Brooklyn Nets and David Roddy from the Memphis Grizzlies.
Memphis is sending David Roddy to the Suns for a pick swap as part of a three-way with Phoenix and Brooklyn, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Suns pick up O'Neale and Roddy for their postseason rotation.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 8, 2024
It isn’t all the doing of those young players. It was a tough situation to be in.
Surrounded by greatness and a future Hall of Famer, you can tend to be tentative and passive. When in the game, rather than playing to the best of their abilities, it felt as if some of them were trying not to mess it up. Rather than making the right decision, they were focused on trying not to make the wrong decision. They were deferring on offense, which is never a good state of mind to be in as a player.
So the Suns sent those who shied away from the moment away and received Royce O’Neale (and David Roddy), who shouldn’t have any of those issues. RO is like Eric Gordon. Confident. Established. A track record of success. Well, relative success. When he’s in the game, he will hustle, take chances, and shoot the ball. He will not play with the tentativeness that the outgoing Suns did.
It was the right move to move on from the mistakes of the summer because the Suns don’t have the time to sit and wait for them to try to develop their confidence. They’re in a rock fight of a race in the Western Conference and you need well-established and self-assured players to come in to fill the role effectively, play alongside the stars fearlessly, and execute.
Royce O’Neale will allow the Suns to do so on both ends of the floor. David Roddy? We’ll have to see.
The Suns still have two open roster spots now, which will make the buyout market an interesting conversation for the next few weeks. Players who join the team before March 1 can be on the postseason roster, so as one deadline ends, another begins.