Dream Signing: Phoenix Suns
Suns GM, Ryan McDonough, has vowed all year that the Suns would be aggressive this offseason. That’s like someone who’s hanging off the edge of a cliff claiming they’re going to be aggressive in trying to pull themselves up. His job is less secure than someone’s WiFi that has a password of “password”. The Suns aggressive offseason began during the season when they aggressively tanked to get the number one pick. Then, they traded a valuable future asset (Miami’s 2021 pick) for Mikal Bridges, one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. The Suns are trying to win sooner rather than later. They have the young core in place. Now, they just need to fill out the roster with some veterans that can teach their young guns how to win.
One of the biggest needs for the Suns is a defensive minded point guard to pair with Devin Booker. Last year, the Suns experimented with Booker at the point, and it was one of the least awful things in an awful season. He showed flashes of James Harden with his ability to run the pick and roll and averaged a career high 4.7 assists. The Suns need someone at the point to help hide Booker’s defensive deficiencies that can also play off the ball to let Booker continue to grow as a playmaker. There are some interesting names to consider.
Marcus Smart has been linked to the Suns, and while I like the fit, his complete lack of offense makes it hard for me to justify the $15+ million a year he’ll likely command. Dante Exum would be a good reclamation project, but with Elie Okobo on board, a developmental point guard is a bit redundant. Elfrid Payton could be….hahahaha nevermind…I can’t even pretend that he’s an option even with his new haircut. If you read the title, you already know I’m talking about Avery Bradley.
Avery Bradley was hampered by injuries this year in Detroit and LA. He only played in 46 games, shot 41% from the field, and averaged a career-high 2.2 turnovers. Before the season, he was looking to garner a long-term contract for near $20 million a year. Now, he’ll be lucky to get half that. Still, he’s only 27 years old and one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league. He’s also a great cutter off the ball and a decent three-point shooter (37% for his career, but nearly 40% in his last year in Boston). He’s got playoff experience and could be a great mentor for Elie Okobo. He checks off all the boxes.
While the Suns can create up to $18 million in cap space this year, there aren’t too many big prizes available (that would actually come to Phoenix). The Suns would be better off maintaining their future cap flexibility until they become a more attractive destination for big-name guys. So, instead of committing tons of future money to any of this year’s crop, I think they should overpay Bradley in the range of $12-$18 million on a 1-year deal like Philly did with JJ Reddick.
Bradley is going to be facing a depleted market and may have to settle for the mid-level exception on a contender until he can build his value back up with a strong season. The Suns offer Bradley a great opportunity to do just that with plenty of minutes, and they can offer more money to compensate for the lack of long-term security. Then, he can re-enter the free agent market next year and get the big contract he’s surely not getting this summer. In return, Bradley can help the young Suns establish a winning culture and possibly make a surprise push for the playoffs.
Plus, he’s only 27. There is a possibility that he plays his way into the core of a new, accelerated #Timeline, and the Suns make a Sixers-like jump next season. If he does, then they have his bird rights going into next summer to re-sign him. If not, they can cut bait and free up all that money for 2019 without any future cap ramifications. It’s a win-win situation for a player entering his prime eager to prove himself and a team that’s ready for the next step of the process (small “p”; please don’t sue me, Sam Hinkie.)