October 3, 2022

Over a 24-hour period amid the negotiation of what could be the biggest trade in franchise history to acquire Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets, the Phoenix Suns quietly signed depth players on likely minimum deals .

Late Saturday, according to Shams Charania, the Suns signed Defense-focused Josh Okogie to the off-guard group which also includes Devin Booker, Landry Shamet and, starting Friday, Damion Lee. All four players are between 6’4″ and 6’5″. None are true playmakers, and none are big enough to play either outpost regularly.

Once the 20th pick of the 2018 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves — the same draft that Suns Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Landry Shamet came from — Okogie went from potential as a defensive specialist to completely out of Wolves’ rotation and released at the end of his four-year rookie contract. At the end of last week, Wolves refused to give Okogie a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Okogie can play defense but just can’t shoot the basketball. He never got past 29 percent on three-pointers and never developed in the playmaking or rebounding areas. He’s a great end-of-the-bench signing who can be feisty defensively, has some size and length to take on bigger ball handlers, but can’t be relied on on offense.

The signing of Okogie caps a day the Suns added four minimum wage players to two positions: two centers (Bismack Biyombo and Jock Landale) and two guards (Damian Lee and Josh Okogie).

Knowing that general manager James Jones likes to be three deep at every position, you can read that as a sign the Suns expect to come out of a deal with Kevin Durant with no more than a center and a shooting guard. , while keeping their depth. at point guard and winger/forward, but I would caution against that.

I just think there are too many balls in the air, so to speak, on this big issue for Durant and the Suns really don’t know what their top 10 will look like when it’s done.

So for now, they’re filling the 11th through 15th spots on the list and waiting for all that dust to settle.

None of these guys should be counted on to play real minutes unless there are injuries. It’s more like Frank Kaminsky, Ifffe Lundberg (ooooh, sorry Ifffe, those two guards are the same height as you), Elfrid Payton, Aaron Holiday. Ready to play when needed, but not every night.


Update from Flex Saturday:

Rumors swirled, as Flex predicted, that the Nets were in negotiations to send Kyrie Irving elsewhere and possibly even to the Lakers in an Irving/Joe Harris package for Russell Westbrook/Kendrick Nunn. It would suck, actually, because the Lakers would suddenly get a whole lot better.

Other competitors for KD’s services, at least hyped by the media, include the Toronto Raptors who could make All-Star Pascal Siakam available (he’s the one NOT on one of those rookie max extensions designated because he was only four, like the Suns tried with Ayton a year ago) or rookie star Scottie Barnes who looks like a future All-Star to headline the ‘offer.

But there’s no certainty that Toronto is ready to trade either of those players, or that the Raptors can add as many future draft picks as the Suns.

And there’s no certainty — don’t discount that at all — that Kevin Durant would simply join a team the Nets picked for him. All Durant has to do is threaten to hold on and demand another trade from the Raps, and suddenly it seems a lot less appetizing to trade your future for him.

What could that three-team trade with the Jazz and Nets look like, which Flex says is in the works starting Saturday? Big. Huge.

Likely:

  • Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Mikal Bridges or Cameron Johnson and a handful of Nets firsts
  • Ben Simmons and Deandre Ayton at Jazz
  • Kevin Durant and Bojan Bogdanovic at the Suns

These are just the headliners. The Nets withdrew their qualifying offer on Kessler Edwards on Saturday, releasing a cap hold. There must be something related to the cap here, and I guess that means A LOT of players come to Brooklyn in this trade.

My guess is that the Suns are finally giving up Ayton, Johnson, several first-round picks and two other players in Landry Shamet, Jae Crowder, Dario Saric and Torrey Craig for the rights to Kevin Durant from the Nets and one or two other good players.

Keep an eye out, Suns fans. We will keep you posted here.