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Phoenix Suns Offseason Guide

Phoenix Suns Offseason Guide

Phoenix Suns Offseason Guide

Phoenix Suns Offseason Guide

This is the official Phoenix Suns guide that will break down everything from Monty Williams to Chris Paul, to Deandre Ayton. While many have been speculating and calling for the Suns to trade Ayton, keep/trade Paul, or fire Monty and James Jones; this comprehensive guide will give you a breakdown of all the scenarios, which ones will most likely happen, and where Phoenix will go from there.

This guide will begin with the front office and coaching staff, then it will move into topics revolving around the players.

The state of the front office, James Jones:

While I believe James Jones, acting general manager of the Phoenix Suns, is safe and not going to be fired by owner Mat Ishbia, the speculation has grown since losing to the Nuggets in six games. The Game 6 blowout was hard to watch for Suns fans and it grew into questioning both Monty Williams and James Jones.

This has also led to people speculating Isiah Thomas, who is a friend of Mat Ishbia, to come in as the guy to replace James Jones. Would it be both titles Jones currently possesses? Potentially, however, Phoenix has no desire to shake up their team that much.

As mentioned previously, my opinion is the Suns will keep James Jones because you can’t be reactionary after one season. Knowing what we know about the Suns in this season, it would be unfair to fire Jones all because they got booted in the second round.

While frustrating as it has been for the past two seasons, James Jones single-handedly turned out this organization and made them into a playoff-contending team. His brilliance reshaped the future of this once-hopeless organization.

In terms of the Kevin Durant trade…

The Kevin Durant trade was a trade made by Mat Ishbia, Ishbia decided to make the trade and be bold. While it remains to be seen how this trade unfolds, in terms of their chances of winning a championship, many felt as though James Jones pushed this trade. However, that is simply not the case.

Did James Jones want a generational talent? Most likely, but he was hesitant on trading away Mikal Bridges – the current star player for the Brooklyn Nets.

Here is what Mat Ishbia said about Kevin Durant coming to the Suns and how that’ll affect Phoenix:

“Hoping with Kevin on the team, with all our other great players, we can do great things this year and next and beyond. Excited to have him here, and the whole team is ready to play hard for the rest of the season and compete.”

I asked Ishbia that question on February 16th, 2023.

Conclusion:

Expect James Jones not to be fired and remain here for the foreseeable future; understand that Ishbia knows the talent and skill Jones holds, and he wouldn’t want to jeopardize his team for his friend – who originally played in the NBA and managed a team before.

Ishbia is not a power-trip owner, he will make the right decisions. With that said Jones will remain a part of this Phoenix organization.

Monty Williams has been fired, where do the Suns go next?

The head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, Ty Lue, has been in hot water since being eliminated in the first round. Injuries played a role in them being eliminated in five games, however, many are wondering if Lue is on the chopping block next.

If that is the case, then expect Mat Ishbia and the Suns to try to lure him away from California and into Arizona. Per Marc Stein, the Suns will try to do just that as he is one of their main candidate targets.

It was reported during the evening of Saturday, May 13th, Monty Williams and the organization parted ways. While it is a bummer to have such a great man depart the franchise, Phoenix must focus on its future and its aggressiveness in trying to find a new head coach.

The Suns could go down these possible routes for a new head coach:

Ty Lue

Mat Ishbia is looking for a head coach that can take the Suns to the next level, to the championship level. Monty Williams, despite his track record of being a winner, has been seen as a coach who is very good and a great guy. However, not seen as a coach that can wield his team into The Finals and win it all.

Lue, on the other hand, was that guy and can still be that guy. Give him a healthy (and complete) roster, with two healthy superstars (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George battled injuries constantly during his three years with L.A., and you have yourself a championship team.

Ishbia had an up-close view of what Lue can do and must have seen something special from him as they are winning to go all-in financially and play it a little more risky to get their next coach. Lue is a proven winner who has not lost his touch, he can command the locker room into being a championship locker room.

Ty Lue will be pursued mightily by the Phoenix Suns, expect that to happen. CourtSideHeat currently projects Lue to be the favorite to land Phoenix’s head coaching job.

Nick Nurse

Like Ty Lue, Nurse won a championship as a head coach when he did it with the Toronto Raptors back in 2019. Nurse and Leonard was a great example of a head coach and superstar player duo, which took the league off-guard as to how good they truly were.

Nick Nurse has been seen as a guy who could command this team into winning their first championship in franchise history. Not only does he have the pedigree, but his overall experience and willingness are what is going to separate Nurse from the rest of the NBA coaches.

Expect the Suns to highly consider giving him a couple of interviews and potentially the job. Nick Nurse is a highly skilled coach that has won two championships in his career, the first one being in the G-League and the second one coming in the NBA with Toronto.

It can also be said that Nurse had a tougher ring because he was a rookie with Kawhi Leonard coming to the team for his time; not a lot of familiarity in the locker room at that time, to say the least.

Adrian Griffin

This may be a wildcard of a candidate for the Suns, but let’s say Phoenix entertains the possibility of Griffin becoming their next head coach.

What makes Griffin so interesting as an up-and-coming head coach is his ability to develop players and get them on the right track. Depending on the views Mat Ishbia holds for the draft, if the Suns were to be involved in developing players more then that would be right up Griffin’s expertise.

Also, if the Suns decide to keep Deandre Ayton (will talk about that later in this guide) then Griffin can try to develop him further (even though he isn’t exactly in the beginning stages of his NBA journey) to see if Deandre Ayton can perform better and give better effort/quality to his game.

While a wildcard and almost a bold move for the Suns, it would be interesting to see Phoenix go down because this potential head coach would suit the Suns almost perfectly.

Disclaimer: Mat Ishbia, given his win-now mentality, might not go down this route if comparing this route to the two other routes mentioned before Adrian Griffin. Wouldn’t 9/10 people take the more experienced, already won a championship guy over the new guy that needs time to adjust?

Is the veteran on the move?

Mat Ishbia is in attack mode, he wants the Suns to win now or to have every opportunity to win a championship, but does that mean moving on from Chris Paul?

Paul revived his career after many were counting him out when he was with the Houston Rockets, had a solid run with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and now is with the Phoenix Suns. With that being said, his old age has finally caught up to him.

The 38-year-old could be traded or released by the Suns if they deemed it necessary to remove him from the team. Could Phoenix go younger and not want to finish the contract of CP3? Most definitely, and there are most definitely big-time names out there the Suns are eyeing up.

Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors), Terry Rozier (Charlotte Hornets), and Kyrie Irving (Dallas Mavericks) have all been linked to the Suns and them being a possibility to joining The Valley. Rozier and Irving would both be through trades, whereas VanVleet would come in free agency.

Here are the possible routes the Suns could choose regarding Chris Paul:

Chris Paul remains with the Suns and Phoenix builds the roster so that he can remain a starter

This possibility could be explored as Paul is a positive influence in the locker room with valuable experience that is gained through years of playing and being one of the greatest point guards of all time. Paul has some gas left in the tank, the organization could get another season out of him as a starter.

The biggest challenge to this route is that the Suns will have to build a fully compatible roster that fits the needs of Chris Paul, which is easier said than done. Not only does the starting line have to play exceptionally well without worrying about Paul, the same goes for the bench.

Phoenix needs a consistent, reliable backup point guard that can be a younger version of Chris Paul. If they can transform this team from the bench going up, then this route could happen.

Again, if Ishbia wants to be loyal to Paul then the clear answer to getting better is allowing the team to flourish without worrying about Paul come May.

Chris Paul remains with the team, but he becomes the backup point guard

Due to his age and where he is mentally and physically in his career, being a backup point guard is not the worst idea for both side. Paul averaged 13.9 points, 8.9 assists, and 1.5 steals per game this season; those are very respectable numbers that can translate well on the bench.

Chris Paul’s role with the Suns in this scenario is him being a mentor for younger players, allowing the first line to flourish and bring back up the second line to make the Suns stronger and more efficient, which will provide so many bonuses for the Suns – which is something they lacked in this season if talking about the bench.

The only downside to this route is the money side involving Chris Paul, while the contract’s third year is not fully guaranteed, he is still making $15.8 million for the 2023-24 season. Some will find that expensive for an aging, backup point guard. But, this question needs to be asked, will Mat Ishbia go deep into the luxury tax to keep Paul here and his valuable pros?

If the Suns are forced to do the full $30 million, which wouldn’t be the case, then it would be a no-brainer and they will have to cut loose the aging future Hall of Famer. As at what point does it become too much financially for a backup point guard? Chris Paul is absolutely one of the best, but not at that price tag to be back up and that old.

However, taking money out of the equation (living in a perfect world where money doesn’t dictate how things are operated), would be a win-win for both sides. Chirs Paul finishes as a member of the Phoenix Suns, the team retains his skills and his value as a member of this roster, and it could lead to bigger dynamics the Suns could tap into.

The Phoenix Suns cut ties and buys him out of his existing contract to be free to any team that wants him

Mat Ishbia could buy him out of his current contract or he could try to trade him away. It has been reported on numerous occasions, dating back to this past season’s trade deadline, the Suns were shopping Chris Paul and almost struck a deal to trade him away. This time around, reports are coming out in full force saying the Suns will be “aggressively” shopping him.

Either way, Phoenix could decide to move on. This appears to be the most likely scenario out of the bunch; given the fact he is aging, he isn’t the same Chris Paul who joined the Phoenix Suns, and that contract is unbearable as a backup. It hinders the flexibility the Suns have to make impactful moves and avoid completely going into rebuild mode.

It should be noted his stats have seen a decrease, which is the very opposite higher-ups want to be seen from a starter and locker room general.

If the Suns traded Paul, what could they get for him?

Pheonix will not get a first-rounder or a superstar for Chris Paul, even if they included their draft picks. As of right now, Phoenix’s draft capital is horrific after making the Kevin Durant trade with Brooklyn.

The most you could get for Chris Paul, at this point in his career, is a bench player that has value to the Suns. For example, if the Timberwolves did a deal with the Suns, they would add Mike Conley to that deal to get the likes of Josh Okogie, a draft pick, and Chris Paul.

While the deal would have to expand on both sides to make it worth each other’s wild, Minnesota (even the Lakers) could try to have some fun and trade for the future Hall of Famer.

Conclusion:

Chirs Paul will likely be traded, why? Because the Suns want to get something in return and maybe the aggressors this time around in the offseason, which may include multiple players to get a CP3 deal done. Again, Minnesota could see Deandre Ayton, a high-valued pick, and Chris Paul go to Minnesota for Phoenix to receive Karl-Anthony Towns and maybe a point guard with some value attached to his name.

So, in the end, Chris Paul will most likely be traded as the Suns are in attack mode and want to be as aggressive as possible to compete for a ring.

Want to be aggressive? Trade Deandre Ayton

Monty Williams soured on Deandre Ayton after the 2021 NBA Finals, it poured over till the final days of Monty Williams’s run with the Suns. Many believed Ayton to be on the move if Monty stayed for the ride, however, since Monty is no longer here, does that mean Ayton is staying?

Deandre Ayton never fitted in the system provided by Williams, Monty’s system was made for a traditional big-man – not necessarily tailored to the skillset of Deandre Ayton. Given how Deandre Ayton has played, responded to the criticism, etc, there is a possibility the Suns outright trade him.

Would it be far-fetched to say the Suns are done with Ayton? Not, but, while looking at possible routes of trading him, maybe a new head coach is what Ayton needs to shine bright.

Coaching first, Ty Lue:

Let’s say the Suns lured Ty Lue out of Los Angeles, would he make Deandre Ayton a better player? Systems matter and coaches believing in that specific player matters; to say the least, Lue would be a motivator and strategist to pushing Ayton to the next level.

What people saw in Los Angeles was a great sample of what could be done in Phoenix, obviously having better (and healthier) talent. Look how much better Ivica Zubac played under Ty Lue than Luke Walton (former head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers), why was that?

It was because Zubac was able to be traditional and fit his role through the coaching of Lue, he did the same thing with Kevin Love when he was with Cleveland. Lue knows how to work with big men and make them more valuable than their previous worth, which is why Phoenix is targeting him.

I believe Phoenix would benefit by keeping Ayton if, and only if, Ty Lue can guarantee some noticeable changes in Ayton’s game. Can he make him more physical, have more effort, and be the top guy that was selected first in his draft class? Important questions that need important answers.

Let’s say coaching won’t change Ayton, then trade him:

While the value of Deandre Ayton has gone down, multiple teams (Mavericks and Bulls) have been interested in Ayton and are willing to entertain potential deals to acquire the former number-one pick.

There is still value and if the Suns want to shake things up and they believe it is time to move on from Ayton, then their best course of action would be to trade him. Sadly, Phoenix was backed into a corner when they decided to pay him the extension. Couldn’t let him walk for nothing in return, so this could be their chance to get rid of him and get someone else.

You need a big man that is more capable of being physical, and dynamic, and a proven center that isn’t afraid to defend a larger or craftier opponent. Three-point shooting, if embracing the NBA’s new culture, would be ideal as well. I would recommend the Suns obtain Christian Wood, a player misused by Dallas.

It can be a sign-and-trade deal that ships Ayton to the Mavericks and Christian Wood to the Suns; while the deal would be more sophisticated than a player-for-player transaction, it sets up the basis of what the main meaning of this trade is supposed to be.

Should the Suns try to trade him for real?

I believe the Suns are tired of Deandre Ayton and are ready to move on from him, the same can be said with Chris Paul. Mat Ishbia is a smart man, same with James Jones, and they will do whatever it takes to win a championship.

Even if that means getting rid of their former number-one pick, he hasn’t panned out the right way so it isn’t affecting them too much. As long as they get good assets/pieces in return. Christian Wood is my number target if I were the Suns, he would fit the system of the Suns and fit right in with the starting unit.

Will the Suns pull the trigger? Most likely, in my opinion, but they will be fielding all different kinds of offers and will weigh them until the draft and then make their move. Sometimes cutting ties with a “core” player has to be made so a team doesn’t sacrifice everything for a mediocre player.

What will the Suns do with their bench?

  • Torrey Craig
  • Bismack Biyombo
  • Josh Okogie
  • Damion Lee
  • Saben Lee
  • Darius Bazley
  • Terrence Ross
  • T.J. Warren

These eight players are going to be free agents as the Suns no longer have them on their payroll. It is being speculated majority of these players won’t be returning; names such as Damion Lee, Saben Lee, TJ Warren, Darius Bazley, and Terrence Ross.

However, could that list change depending on the makeover Ishbia gives the Suns and who he hires as a coach? Definitely, but let’s focus on fixing the Suns in the best possible way, first involving the bench.

Point Guard:

  • Cam Payne
  • Dennis Smith Jr.

I believe having Smith Jr. and Cam Payne will be a huge boost to the Suns’ bench regarding point guard, why? Because Phoenix can experiment with the rotations and allow the third and second line of point guards to be interchangeable, which can bring better matchups and chemistry for the Suns.

Dennis Smith Jr. has had glimpses of being that rotational guard for a team, currently the Hornets, and I believe he can transition well to playing for the Suns.

When he is getting quality minutes and action, Smith Jr. can get a team 10/5 per game. Cam Payne and Chris Paul average around those numbers.

Shooting Guard:

  • Cam Johnson
  • Seth Curry

In an ideal world, Phoenix getting back Cam Johnson would be incredible as he provides a level of shooting that was desperately needed this season on the bench. Same if Phoenix acquired Seth Curry, he is a shooter that can be the bench guy for Phoenix.

Both will be able to handle the bench load and make sure the Suns’ momentum doesn’t get lost when Devin Booker and Kevin Durant come out of the game – if talking about scorers and keeping momentum in their favor.

Getting Johnson away From Brooklyn will be difficult as he will command a huge payday from Brooklyn and other interested teams. Pheonix may not be able to contend with offering him a huge contract, it all depends on what they do with their roster – mainly Ayton and Paul.

Getting Curry will be easy, his market isn’t as big as Johnson’s market. We already know how well Johnson fits in with the Suns, but what about Curry? His main skill is shooting the ball, shooting threes, he will fit in with Phoenix as this organization desperately needs three-point shooting off the bench.

Small Forward:

  • Jae Crowder
  • TJ Warren

While it is highly improbable the Suns will be able to win back over Crowder, given their current relationship status, having him back on this team will be a huge boost to the bench.

Crowder is that scrappy, gritty-gutty player that will get a team those man-like rebounds and hit those three-pointers in the clutch. He is a skilled veteran that saw success with the Suns, never rule it out as Phoenix and Crowder will be huge for their bench.

With Crowder being signed, Phoenix can bring back Warren. Personally, I like Warren and he showed glimpses of his bubble days. I would re-sign him, allow him to continue to come off the bench, and have him work alongside Crowder.

Warren is the type of player to give a team those buckets when it is important, he will play hard (with great effort), and make his minutes count. Let’s say the Suns keep Josh Okogie as the starting small forward, or get someone better than Okogie, can you all imagine how the Suns will operate with these three men controlling the frontcourt?

So much action will be happening as Phoenix will never be lacking in the department of scoring, rebounding, and hustle plays.

Power Forward:

  • Torrey Craig
  • Jalen McDaniels

Both McDaniels (76ers) and Craig (Suns) would be great additions and keeps for this bench, how so? Both can provide scoring and rebounding; plus, both their defensive skills are pretty good to make the bench isn’t sliding, or when the Suns are trying to get back into a game that can happen.

Both players have that competitive edge which was seen throughout this entire season; something the Suns pride themselves on and want to see in all their players, big or small.

Not only are the Suns filling out the roster, but they are doing it with a purpose and it being impactful. Plus, the contracts wouldn’t be that expensive at all. Again, depending on what they do with Ayton/Paul/Shamet, Phoenix could have the potential of getting these two on board.

Money-wise, they fit right in.

Center:

  • Thomas Bryant
  • Jock Landale

The Suns need physicality and the ability to play on both sides of the ball, amongst many other qualities in their centers. With that said, why not have Landale and Bryant on the bench?

Jock Landale has shown to the Suns and their fanbase that he can play ball, be physical, be consistent, and have a game that can disrupt some of the biggest names in the game. He’s a solid athlete that brings tremendous qualities to this bench. The same goes for Thomas Bryant.

Bryant’s game has been evolving and he has shown glimpses of being that full-time backup that can bring considerable force/impact to the Suns’ bench. His low-post game has been evolving, the paint is pretty much his when he plays, and he has durability like never seen before in a player like him.

He can score on the move, just like Landale, as both players complement each other nicely. The Suns would be copying and pasting a slightly better Jock Landale if they signed Thomas Bryant.

Conclusion:

In a perfect world, not caring about the unknowns surrounding money and players coming and going, that would be my well-constructed bench. It provides maximum relief to the starting unit as offense and defense will be covered. Many two-way players will be added that can stretch the possibilities of what Phoenix can do, which is something they lacked severely during this past season.

Also, the players I want to bring in will give the Suns a new level of defense that they desperately needed. Offensive players will always be found, but can you find good defensive players? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, which is the tricky part. However, in the end, these players I have selected complement the Suns’ needs in more ways than you could count for.

This bench, in my opinion, is a better bench than what the Suns had back in 2021 during their incredible run to The Finals.

Real quick, should the Suns trade Landry Shamet?

Undoubtedly, yes. They should 100% be looking to explore possible trade options for Shamet, I do not believe in the value of Shamet. He is not worth the extension he was given in 2021, with that said, teams may take on the contract and his defense.

Sadly, his defense couldn’t make up for his inadequacies as his flaws offensively were killing the Suns. Sure did he give them good runs offensively? Yes, but that was very rare and limited. There was no trade-off of starting or giving Shamet minutes; he was given minutes because of how short-handed and lack of depth on their bench.

For most Phoenix could get for Shamet, fans are looking at possible second-rounders. Maybe a mediocre rotational player, if a team has to offset the trade with another contract, but you are more looking at the picks.

James Jones does not value the draft as others do around the league, we do not know how Mat Ishbia values the draft. So this Landry Shamet trade, and overall shopping him, will be made or break on how serious Phoenix is about the trade. Do they care about draft picks and building through that process?

In conclusion, Shamet will be traded as his value with Phoenix has been lost and many are recognizing it. They’ll try to flip him for picks or for a very mediocre player that could be used for depth, or they’ll just cut that player after the trade.

Concluding this guide:

This guide will now be wrapping up as we’ve gone through the front office, coaching possibilities, possible routes with Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul, who to sign to make their bench better, and Landry Shamet. This guide was meant to show you all options available to the Suns, which ones were most likely, and how to rebuild this team from the bench going up.

Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul mock trades will be made in the future, this guide was meant to show you how these puzzle pieces could (or could not) fit in their massive puzzle.

The Suns have a lot of decisions to make as they do not want to rebuild, in fact, it is the exact opposite. Mat Ishbia wants to win, same with James Jones, so they have no interest in settling for mediocrity or rebuilding for a couple of seasons. Nor would the fans of Arizona want to see the Suns rebuild again and be a disappointment.

More guides will be coming out this offseason regarding many other teams; for example, the Bucks, Knicks, and 76ers will all be getting their own offseason guide. Even though this guide could be the greatest guide of them all, which is fair to say given the state of the Phoenix Suns.

People should expect the Suns’ rumors and reports to start coming out as the week progress, we could see some big moves happen during or after The Finals.

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