With a penchant for doing so, it only makes sense that the Phoenix Suns made some interesting moves both leading up to and during the NBA draft.
The first of these moves came hours before the draft and saw Phoenix ship out forward T.J. Warren to the Indiana Pacers. The move included the no. 32 pick for Indiana, while Phoenix was returned cash considerations, effectively making this deal nothing more than a salary dump.
Owed just under $11 million in the 2019-20 season, unloading Warren allowed the Suns to garner some additional cap space. However, some of that financial flexibility was short-lived.
Briefly after their first trade, the Suns came to an agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves to exchange the no. 6 pick for the no. 11 pick and power forward Dario Saric. Later that night, Boston sent veteran center Aron Baynes and Ty Jerome, who was selected at no. 24, to Phoenix for the Milwaukee 2020 first round pick.
In a matter of hours, the Phoenix Suns went from giving a player away to clear almost $11 million in cap space to adding four new names to the roster and taking on a sum of just over $14 million in salary.
They now have a total of 11 players on their roster with almost $85 million in cap space spoken for. Additionally, the Suns have seven free agents with a combined cap hold just north of $30 million, and the team will need to decide on who they plan to re-sign and who they will let go.
Free agency is set to kick off at 6 p.m. Eastern Time on June 30, and the Phoenix Suns have plenty questions to answer when figuring out where they go from here.
3. How prominent can they be in the free agent point guard market?
Over a few short years the Suns went from excess to absence in terms of point guard depth on their roster. Finding a starting point guard to pair with Devin Booker in the backcourt has been a ongoing goal for Phoenix.
Last season, the workload at the point was shared by De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, Tyler Johnson, and even Booker at times, but this offseason the Suns have a chance to finally find a clear answer to their need at this position.
By dropping all cap holds currently on the books, the Phoenix Suns could open up as much as about $24.3 million in money to spend. Barring an unexpected trade, it is very unlikely that they find a way to create enough space for Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, who headline the list of available point guards this summer.
D’Angelo Russell, who significantly boosted his value last season, could be a possible target. If they are able to open up a little more cap space, they could realistically offer a max contract to Russell, given his max is slightly less than what a player like Irving or Walker would command.
The same goes for Malcom Brogdon, who could be available for a slightly cheaper price than Russell. Both of these young guards, though, are restricted free agents and even if they have interest in signing with the Suns, nothing can be guaranteed.
That said, there is at least a reasonable chance none of these names are in play for filling Phoenix’s hole at point guard. Thankfully for James Jones and the rest of the front office, there will be no shortage of options for their position of need this summer.
Players like Ricky Rubio, Darren Collison, Derrick Rose, and Patrick Beverly could be potential fixes for the Suns that are both financially practical and would provide proven talent. Even if the outlook begins to quickly dim, players like Rajon Rondo, Cory Joseph, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Jeremy Lin could serve as a sufficient stopgap while also not clogging up their salary table.
There are plenty of point guards available this offseason, but Phoenix will have to be aggressive- and maybe even a little lucky- if they want to make sure they bring aboard someone who can suit up at that position for them long-term.
2. What will they do with Kelly Oubre Jr.?
After being acquired from the Washington Wizards early last season, the 23-year-old small forward logged decent time for the Suns and put up some of the best numbers in his NBA career thus far.
In 29.5 minutes per game, Oubre put up 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals. As he enters restricted free agency, though, Phoenix will have to sort out whether or not their plans for the future include him.
With a cap hold of roughly $9.6 million, the Suns are best served making this call quickly, as renouncing him would help open up a solid chunk of cap space to pursue another player. If they hold on to Oubre, they can still shore up some operable room for free agents, but it could get tricky if the forward gets presented with a hefty offer sheet.
If it is not meant to be and Kelly Oubre Jr. is headed for his third NBA team this summer, there are some silver linings for the Phoenix Suns. The price paid for Oubre when he was acquired last season was Trevor Ariza- who would have likely been off the roster this summer as well-, so it isn’t a big loss asset-wise.
The Suns also have Mikal Bridges coming off a promising rookie season and giving some indication that he could be a reliable starting small forward in the league very soon.
Regardless of what they decide to do with Oubre, they need to act quickly.
1. Can they trade Josh Jackson?
After being taken fourth overall in the 2017 NBA draft, it appears the Suns have become entirely disenchanted with the wing and are ready to move on. The question is though, will they have any takers?
Jackson has struggled to find a consistent shot from deep and isn’t the best fit for this Phoenix team. Combine that with his persistent off-court troubles as of late and it is no surprise that the Suns are ready to cut this relationship short.
If they are able to move him in the next few days, then they could find themselves opening up about $7 million more in cap space, which would obviously come in handy.
However, there is a real chance that shipping out Jackson would have to come with no return, or even worse, the relinquishment of an asset to facilitate the deal.
If another team is willing to take out a flyer on a young former lottery pick with two more years left on a rookie scale deal, then they may be in luck though.