Suns Not Messing Around This Offseason


It’s been about a month since the Phoenix Suns‘ playoff run was cut short by the Western Conference champion Denver Nuggets. The series ended unceremoniously with a 25-point Game 6 blowout.

The Suns have something special in the Devin Booker and Kevin Durant duo, but the team has already let go of head coach Monty Williams and the rest of the supporting cast is questionable, to say the least. This is The Lead’s Phoenix Suns’ offseason guide and what decisions they have to make.

Phoenix Suns offseason guide: Coaching Change

Let’s start with the head-coaching switch. The dismissal of Monty Williams didn’t make much sense considering the roster he was given to work with after the trade deadline. The only major faults one could make against Williams were his distrust of the bench and his inability to connect consistently with Deandre Ayton. Yet, for new owner Mat Ishbia, those along with the second-round exit were a good enough reason to dismiss the respected head coach.

The Suns did their due diligence and landed on hiring former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. The deal with worth five years and $31 million, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Vogel won an NBA title with the Lakers and had several deep playoff runs when he was the head coach of the Indiana Pacers. Vogel’s resume as a defensive-first coach should help the Suns heading into next season. The question becomes can the front office give him a roster with enough playable players.

Phoenix Suns offseason guide: Draft Assets

Thanks to the Kevin Durant trade, the Suns are pretty limited on the first-round picks they have. This offseason, they own the 52nd pick in the draft. It seems unlikely that the Suns could find legit talent at that point in the draft, and unless they pair that pick with other second-round picks or a player, it seems unlikely they could get solid value for the team.

Phoenix Suns offseason guide: Decisions on Paul and Ayton

While both Durant and Booker were elite in the postseason, the duo of Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton were the opposite. Paul was injured for a good portion of their playoff run (surprising). When he did play, he wasn’t producing like he did during his prime.

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Clearly, he’s started to drop off and the Suns — at a minimum — had little interest in retaining his contract, sending him to waivers earlier this week.

While this could be a cap-saving move to get CP3 to the veteran’s minimum, his remaining NBA ceiling continues to shrink and may not be in the Suns’ best interest to retain, even at a smaller salary clip.

Ayton is the other part of this core and if his lack of impressive play during the playoffs indicated anything, he might not want to be in The Valley any longer. That might change with Vogel as the new head coach in the locker room, but the front office may not want to wait to see if that would happen.

Ayton has immense value as a top-10 center in the NBA with even more potential as he’s only 24 years old and has an offensive game that wasn’t utilized by Williams. A team looking for a young center to be a franchise cornerstone should be interested in Ayton, like the Pacers.

Phoenix Suns offseason guide: Own Free Agents

The following is the list of players who are set to become free agents. If their name is in italics, it means they have a partial or non-guaranteed contract. A (T) next to their name means they have a team option on their contract.

It’s clear that the roster probably won’t look the same next year, so let’s see who’s most likely not coming back. It should be noted before beginning that Coach Vogel likely dictates who is brought back.

Not likely to return

It makes sense for the Suns to move on from CP3, even if he can be brought back for cheap. It also seems likely that Cameron Payne won’t return either. It’s not that he’s a bad backup, but with his injury history and his $6.5 million contract isn’t fully guaranteed, it would make sense not to bring him back. Saben Lee was on a two-way contract and isn’t likely to return as the Suns should look to add younger prospects to that slot.

Big men Bazley and Biyombo seem unlikely to return. Bazley barely saw time with Phoenix this season and he’s a raw prospect that wasn’t able to find a home on the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this past season, and the Suns need players who can contribute now. Biyombo is a solid defender and rebounder, but without Paul, he’s essentially useless on offense. Landale also outperformed him in the postseason, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Suns moved on from the former lottery pick.

Players they should try to keep

It’s hard to say if Terrence Ross will return. He didn’t get much time to adjust to playing with the Suns’ core, but as a spark-plug scorer, he has value for any team. The 32-year-old will probably go where he can get the most minutes, so hopefully that will be with Phoenix.

Players like Damion Lee, Josh Okogie and Torrey Craig all had very good seasons this past year and shouldn’t want to leave. Lee and Okogie should be able to stay on a minimum contract. The tricky one is Craig, as he’s probably going to demand more than that. As long as he doesn’t get too expensive, however, Phoenix should try to retain him.

It’s clear that Warren is still working his way back from injury, so the Suns should be able to retain him and if he can become the player he once was, then Phoenix has a bargain on their hands. Landale probably isn’t the ideal first center off the bench due to his defensive limitations, but he’s a strong third center and should be able to be retained with a minimum contract.

Phoenix Suns offseason guide: Potential Free Agent Targets

Unless some trades occur, the Phoenix Suns won’t have much ability to sign free agents this offseason. That being written, there are some players that Suns’ president of basketball operations James Jones should look at for this roster outside of its own free agents. It should be noted that there are more free agents that I’ll be looking at in future articles, but for this article’s sake I will be looking at two of my top-10 choices.

This first name is a bit controversial, but bear with me. Dillon Brooks won’t be coming back to the Memphis Grizzlies, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN and Phoenix needs more defense on the perimeter and grit in their locker room. Due to his own antics, Brooks might be able to be had on a mid-level exception. Who knows— a change of scenery could help him get his three-point shot back. He’s at least worth a look during free agency.

Next is the Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden. There are rumors that Harden is interested in Phoenix.

Now let’s be clear— unless Paul, Ayton, Payne and Landry Shamet are traded for draft picks, signing Harden — who has a player option —  will be near impossible unless he takes a significant pay cut. Still, Harden’s playmaking paired with Booker and Durant would be a match made in heaven as long as Harden and Durant don’t have any hard feelings about how things ended in Brooklyn.

Jones and the rest of the Phoenix Suns front office have a lot to evaluate this offseason. Hopefully they make the right calls, because the core of Booker and Durant doesn’t have a big title window, and the time to win is now.

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About Lucas Johnson

Regent University graduate with a B.A. in History. Girl Dad. Currently covering the Phoenix Suns for The Lead Sports Media. Currently Co-Host of the Sixer Sense Podcast and Washington Commanders contributor for NFL Spin Zone. Past writing experience includes The Sixer Sense, PopGates, and Rotoden, while also being a former Co-Site Expert for Valley of the Suns and Co-Site Expert for The Sixer Sense. Former host of the Dribble Chat Podcast and Minnesota Timberwolves contributor for The Lead Sports Media. Co-Site Expert for Valley of the Suns and Co-Site Expert for The Sixer Sense. Currently Co-Host of the Sixer Sense Podcast and Washington Commanders contributor for NFL Spin Zone. Former host of the Dribble Chat Podcast for The Lead Sports Media and Minnesota Timberwolves contributor. Currently covering the Phoenix Suns for The Lead Sports Media.

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