Well, what do the Phoenix Suns do now? After trading for Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, their goal was clear: win the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, Phoenix fell way short of their expectations, losing in the second round to the Denver Nuggets. Now, their once-wide open window is closing faster than they anticipated.
With a new, aggressive owner like Mat Ishbia leading the charge, the Suns figure to be a prominent name in the offseason news cycle and the free agency rumor mill. Looking to acquire new players to make the team better is obviously a good idea. However, some names in the market right now aren't as good of a fit as advertised. Let's look at which free agents are red flags that the Suns must avoid.
The Suns are likely looking for a replacement for Chris Paul this coming offseason. The main reason is Paul's age: CP3 is 38 years old, making him a dinosaur by NBA standards. His age is unfortunately also showing in his play over the last few years: he's down to just under 14 points per game on 44% shooting from the field. The passing is still there, but the many injuries Paul has suffered is taking a toll on his play.
With that in mind, the Suns might look to get a player they've been interested in for awhile: Kyrie Irving. Irving is a free agent this offseason, but Phoenix will not be able to sign him straight up (barring an outright release of Paul). Instead, Phoenix could acquire Irving via a sign-and-trade (he signs with the Dallas Mavericks, and then is immediately traded to the Suns, ideally for Chris Paul's contract).
The Suns have long been interested in Kyrie Irving. Even during the regular season, the team was among the many suitors for the ex-Brooklyn Nets star point guard. However, now that the offseason is coming, the Suns have other point guards that they can consider.
The series against the Nuggets exposed the Suns' lackluster bench depth. Trading for Kevin Durant completely gutted any semblance of bench presence this team had. Trading for Irving (who will likely command a $30+ million contract) will further impede their ability to fix their bench. They could get someone like Fred VanVleet for a lower price and still get almost the same value. Irving is also injury-prone, and has a tendency to miss way too many games.
If the Suns want to get their new point guard from the free agent market, there's plenty of options available. We mentioned VanVleet as a potential flashy pick: despite a down year, FVV is still a starting-caliber PG with decent defense and great shooting from the outside. If they want to spend their money on a different position, they could go for names like Dennis Schroder or even Gabe Vincent. They aren't stars, but they're pretty good role players who can give you quality minutes in a playoff game.
Another position that might need to be filled up for the Suns is going to be the center position. Deandre Ayton's future with the Suns is unknown after a tumultuous and uninspiring playoff run. The Nuggets are the frontrunners in the Western Conference, and if Phoenix wants to compete, they need a way to match up with the Serbian behemoth that is Nikola Jokic. Ayton, try as he might, wasn't the guy for the job.
The center market this offseason is a bit thin, if we're being honest. Unless a home run trade shows up for Ayton, Phoenix might be better off keeping the grumpy center around and try and rehabilitate their relationship. Still, adding another bench piece to round out their bench isn't a bad idea, unless it's Dwight Powell.
Powell has been the bane of the Mavs fan base for quite some time now, and for good reason. There was once a time when Powell was still a great big man to pair with a star point guard. He was able to rim-run effectively and protect the paint with his help-side shot blocking. Unfortunately, those days are long gone now. Powell has been a shell of himself in Dallas, struggling to make an impact on a team that has a serious need at his position.
The biggest center in the market that could be a good fit for the Suns is probably a player like Naz Reid. Reid isn't a flashy player, but he's a big body that can help try and disrupt Nikola Jokic and the other bigs in the Western Conference. They could also try and go big by taking a crack at Toronto Raptors center Jakob Poeltl, who is one of the more underrated centers in the league.