Welcome to “Inside the Suns,” your weekly in-depth analysis of the current Phoenix Suns squad.
First up is the Fantable – a roundtable of Bright Siders who give their thoughts on the latest Suns issues and news.
Fantastic questions of the week
Q1 – How long do you think Kevin Durant’s trade talks will last and is there a point where you think James Jones should just cut the bait and go with plan B (whatever that is)?
GuarGuar: I’m having a hard time seeing these KD trade talks lasting longer than next week. I think both sides want to move on and it’s clear that this deal is delaying freedom of action. Unless KD is traded elsewhere, I see no reason James Jones would ever cut the bait and go plan B. All tokens should be pushed for KD. It’s Kevin Durant.
OldAz: It depends. James Jones knows the real reason why any deal takes so long, so I’m trying to be patient. If there is still hope of making the trade without gutting the whole team, then he should wait. If that hope is dim or a decision needs to be made (like DA receiving an offer sheet), it’s time to move on. Nothing was lost as any real movement this offseason had to be done via trade anyway. Other than TMLE, free agency has never been a viable option and the type of player and position they should spend that TMLE on is entirely dependent on the trades being made.
Jim C: Kevin Durant’s situation has been a rollercoaster. Now I can’t tell if we’re stuck on the tracks somewhere on the ride or sitting at the starting point with the attendant telling us to get off. These things are usually hammered faster than that during the free agency period. Other moves may be in limbo until the big dominoes fall. An impasse of this magnitude can paralyze things. If a deal is going to happen, I don’t see why it hasn’t.
I don’t know how much motivation there is to move to plan B. I guess plan B is still trying to find a business partner for Ayton. They might even have that in place depending on Durant’s situation. Then Plan C is to bring him back and try to fix the fences. But at this point, Ayton signing an offer sheet is the only thing that really forces the Suns’ hand…otherwise Plans B and C remain on the table. If being ‘stuck’ with Ayton is the worst case scenario, I don’t think the wait is a big deal.
It’s just not fun or sexy. The roller coaster started off fun. Now that we’re not moving, it sucks a little.
Rod: I wish I could say that I think the negotiation with the Nets should be over quickly, but I just don’t see that happening. It’s likely to take at least one more team involved in the trade for the Nets to get enough in return without the Suns giving up too much and it might get tricky.
While all the waiting can be frustrating, a chance to land Kevin Durant doesn’t come along every day. The fact that he is under contract for 4 years gives the Nets no reason to act quickly, so I did not expect a quick resolution. I doubt James Jones is expecting one either, so I doubt he’ll give up anytime soon. In fact, I think the Nets are more likely to quit before the Suns.
Q2 – Of the three new members of the Suns, Damion Lee (6’5″ SG), Josh Okogie (6’4″ SG/SF)) and Jock Landale (6’11” C), who do you think has the greatest potential to make a real impact as a rotation player this season?
GuarGuar: I think Jock has the potential to be a key replacement for us. He seems to have a good idea of the game and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him have big minutes this year, given our current rotations at the center.
OldAz: If the Suns end up with one of those meaningful three minutes as a rotational player this year, the offseason has gone horribly wrong. These 3 look like the new version of Elf Payton, Abdul Nader and Frank K (after signing Biz). If I had to choose one it would be Okogie but only because he is still young at 23. He has athleticism and maybe some maturity and a new team/system will unlock something for him, more than he has shown so far. I guess that’s still possible for Landale too at 26, but while he wasn’t a serious contributor for Spurs last year, I’m not sure the next level is really there.
Jim C: I think Damion Lee is the best player of the three. He plays good defense and doesn’t do much to hurt the team. If he can get back to shooting around 40% from three points, he should be able to give the team a solid 15-20 minutes as a backup. He managed to get a decent amount on the field for the Warriors. Josh Okogie is still quite young… but I don’t see his career taking off. I don’t think he would still be in the league if Minnesota hadn’t drafted him in the first round. Maybe I missed something, but a shooter who hits less than 28% of his threes isn’t really a shooter.
I think Jock Landale has the best opportunity to make an impact. These other guys will be fighting for minutes behind the stars. Landale fights for minutes with other players fighting for minutes. That’s part of the reason people are worried about Ayton leaving. There’s a huge dropout from him to anyone currently on the roster. The fact that I think Landale has this opportunity to make an impact illustrates that. Landale can shoot a little, so he might fit what the Suns want to do more of, but he’s not a great rebounder or defender…which also seems to fit what the Suns want to do.
Rod: It really could be one of three depending on the Suns’ final roster composition at the start of the season. Lee appears to be the best offensive player of the three and is averaging 35.7% career over three. Okogie is challenged offensively but can be a dog on defense. Landale is more of a question mark but has some size and looks like a good team player. Too bad we can’t put all three together and have a 6’11” bulldog defender who can also score threes at solid pace.
I’ll tie my answer to whether Durant’s trade goes through or not. If KD ends up on the Suns, I think Okogie probably has the best chance of making an impact because of his defensive skills. If that trade doesn’t happen, Lee could potentially get minutes to add another scoring threat off the bench. Landale… well, he still has a lot to prove and if Ayton isn’t traded somehow this offseason, I doubt he’ll see much time on the court.
Q3 – Other than Ish Wainright, is there anyone on the Suns Summer League squad that you would like to see during SL games?
GuarGuar: This might be the least exciting Summer Suns team we’ve had in the past decade. Other than Ish, I really have no idea who was on the list. That being said, I’ll still catch a few matches for sure. I’ll be interested to see what Ish can do with a heavier offensive workload.
OldAz: No. I love my wife and I want to stay married. Letting my obsession with sports grow to include the frenzy of watching summer league basketball would likely come at the expense of something far more important I could do.
Jim C: Maybe a player like Vrenz Bleijenbergh, 6′ 10” SF (Belgium)??? The list is not very impressive, but maybe a young man (20 years old) can show some advantages in which he can grow. Bleijenbergh would be another big in the mold that the Suns seem to be coveting. He can run on the floor and even handle the ball well enough to start a quick break after a steal or a long rebound… which also uses his playing ability. His filming is a work in progress. One of those situations where mechanically you “feel” like he could be a good shooter, but he’s not there yet. Hopefully he could become the next Alec Peters, whom Ryan McDonough considered one of the best shooters in the 2017 NBA Draft. an adequate defender. I know I’m getting there, but the Suns need big if Ayton leaves.
Rod: While neither of these guys will become regular rotation players for the Suns, one or two could actually make the team a two-way contract player. With Covid still a concern, adding someone at least competent might come in handy at some point. These guys are mostly older, more experienced players and could be good additions for this role. In the peloton, I’m mostly interested in Vrenz Bleijenbergh (6’10” SF Belgium), Kevin Zhang (6’10” PF Tulane) and Duop Reath (6’11” PF/C LSU). Why? Mainly because they all have good height which the Suns need, especially at PF. I’m also interested in seeing Zhang because one of his favorite players growing up was Steve Nash and he started out as a guard before growing to 6’10”.
As always, a big thank you to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
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Last week’s poll results
Last week’s poll was “Does James Jones’ draft philosophy suit you?”
45% – Yes.
55% – No.
A total of 332 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…
How long do you think Kevin Durant’s trade talks will last?
Another week or two at most.
Another month at least but not much more.
They could take all summer.
94 voices in total