For The Win - USA Today
The Phoenix Suns will have a very different look this coming season.
Gone is Ryan McDonough as General Manager. Though he was gone prior to the start of this past season, the roster entering the season was his.
James Jones was an Interim and has now been promoted as the franchise’s full-time GM. He’s already made his presence known and has made it clear that he felt the team was in serious need of a remodel.
Head Coach Igor Kokoskov is no longer a thing. I liked him for many reasons but he did not click as the team’s voice, fair or not with the lack of a complete squad. Monty Williams, who is well-respected around the league and has head coach experience in the NBA, has taken his place. It could be argued that there was no better man for the job and this was a big win as the Suns not only got their man but they also got the man that the rival Los Angeles Lakers were pursuing very strongly.
That’s an upgrade and James Jones is to thank.
Now, let’s take a look at the players. The main core is still intact for now as Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mikal Bridges are still on board along with Tyler Johnson who is a good young veteran that helped the club in a short stint last season. Elie Okobo is still on the roster at this time but so are several other young point guards so that could change at any time.
Speaking of Tyler and Kelly, they were both two very good acquisitions by James last season. Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza were all the team gave up to get them and that makes them absolute steals.
There were some negative moves by Jones as Austin Rivers was also part of the deal to get Oubre and he was just let go as an expiring contract with value. Tyson Chandler was another larger expiring contract that the team cut ties with. Phoenix very well could have got something in return for either player but both left without anything coming to the valley in return.
This summer the Suns said bye to several players in free agency and via trade. Dragan Bender and Josh Jackson hadn’t panned out here and were sent away. DeAnthony Melton, a young defensive point guard with solid potential was sent out along with picks to rid Jackson. The only player coming back to Phoenix is another young defensive point guard in Jevon Carter.
Jamal Crawford is still a free agent but will likely join a contender. Troy Daniels signed with the Lakers as a legit three-point threat. Richaun Holmes was a very good backup center in his one year as a Sun but the franchise decided to go the route of a veteran center in Aron Baynes and so Holmes is now on the Sacramento Kings.
James Jones, in an effort to free up some cap space, sent T.J. Warren with a pick to the Indiana Pacers for cash considerations. Warren, though injury prone and not a defensive player, is a good player and this was very much a questionable move. However, there was a glut on the wing and it was cleared up with the other moves and freed up space for Jones to get his mission completed.
Cam Johnson was definitely a reach in the draft but he’s arguably the best shooter in his class and there’s no doubt that Phoenix needed shooting almost as much as they needed a point guard and power forward. Their other rookie is Ty Jerome, who is a “proven” point guard that won an NCAA Championship with Virginia and in my opinion could end up being the best point in this draft class.
To solve the issue at power forward, the Suns traded for Dario Saric, who could be a great fit next to Ayton and is in the last year of his contract before becoming a restricted free agent. So, if he works out, they have full control. The team also signed Frank Kaminsky, who is a decent young stretch big that could fare well with a change of scenery, on the cheap at the Mid-Level Exception.
Phoenix realized it was collecting several big men that weren’t exactly rim protectors or too athletic so they went out and signed Cheick Diallo from the New Orleans Pelicans, who Monty worked with as an assistant, for the minimum and will allow them to hopefully continue to grow together.
The biggest hole for the purple and orange army all of last season and ever since Eric Bledsoe “didn’t want to be here any more” was at point guard. The best move, in my opinion, for the Suns this summer was signing Ricky Rubio, who clearly fills that hole.
Let’s rewind to the start of last season. The starting lineup for the Phoenix Suns, with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, included Isaiah Canaan, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson. Canaan is a better fit for the G-League than the NBA, Ariza and Anderson both showed they are older and either was just collecting a check (Ariza) or doesn’t have much left to offer (Anderson).
Fast forward to their potential starting lineup this coming season and Booker and Ayton will be joined by Rubio, Oubre and Saric.
Which one would you rather have? I’d take this new look every day and twice on Tuesday.
The roster has been strongly upgraded all around and James Jones is to thank.
These New Look Phoenix Suns should be a lot of fun.