Welcome to ‘Inside the Suns’, your weekly deep down analysis of the current Phoenix Suns team.
Each week the Fantable — a round table of Bright Siders – give their takes on the Suns’ latest issues and news. This week we welcome two guests to the Fantable, our managing editor Dave King and the “Suns Geek” an extremely prodigious producer of Suns related YouTube videos!
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 – If the Suns fail to make the playoffs this year BUT get lucky in the lottery and can draft Victor Wembanyama, should they trade Deandre Ayton or try to play them together?
GuarGuar: I don’t think Victor is a 5 given his lack of strength so it would be fine to play DA next to him. Wemby would provide great spacing so it wouldn’t be an issue.
OldAz: Easy one for me… Keep them and play them together. Think of the matchup problems this creates. Booker, Mikal, DA, Wembanyama. DA remains the center with a huge PF who can dribble and shoot. PnR between DA and Wembanyama with Book as a shooter on the wing!?!? How would other teams even guard this? Really have not heard too many teams complain about having too many good players, especially too many good big players.
Suns Geek: This is a very big IF. If somehow the Suns were gifted Victor Wembanyama, the Phoenix Suns should keep Ayton and play them together. I’m a fan of NBA history and this would be slightly reminiscent of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. I believe Deandre would help Victor a lot in his rookie year, and that’s a tall intimidating frontcourt offensively and defensively I think it would work on most nights. Wemby would have to adjust to the physicality of the NBA but man that would be fun.
Dave: First of all, I’ve been so disappointed in Ayton this year I think the Suns need to trade him regardless. He’s putting up the same numbers but they seem a lot more hollow than the last three years, as if he got the money and now doesn’t want to try as hard. Especially for this current construction of leadership. It seems that Monty Williams can no longer get through to him. If they can turn him back around, then keep him forever and acquire that dynamic big forward to play next to him (like Wemby, for example). I just don’t know when/if he will re-engage.
Rod: Under these circumstances, the only reason I wouldn’t try to play them together is if DA has had it with the team and wants out… and even then I’d want to try and convince him to at least give it a try before seriously looking at possible trades. Wembanyama is much like a SF with center height and his lack of bulk would be much less important with him playing PF alongside DA. The only thing that might keep the Suns from being an instant contender then might be coaching…
Q2 – Deandre Ayton is now trade eligible but has veto power over any potential trade. Do you think DA would be open to being traded and forgo his veto power?
GuarGuar: I definitely think Ayton would be open to a trade given all that’s happened the past 8 moths. His altercation with Monty, the contract saga, and how this year has gone are all big factors. I could see him wanting a fresh start. I would be surprised if he used his veto power.
OldAz: Not really. I always thought this was the flaw in all the trade rumors. Why would DA accept a trade to a non-competitive team. He is already guaranteed his money for 4 years and has been part of a winning culture for a few years now. I can’t see him agreeing to a trade unless it was the perfect situation for him, and what could the Suns possibly get back in that scenario. Unless the Suns become a “seller” trying to get young prospects and picks, I just don’t see it.
Suns Geek: As of right now, I’m not saying a Deandre Ayton trade is impossible but, as I’ve said many times before, anything can happen in the NBA. I think things would have to collapse for the Suns for Ayton to be open to or ask for a trade. I think worst case scenario Deandre is traded this off-season and the Suns bring in a borderline all-star talent and a couple of other assets. However, winning cures all and, if the Suns get healthy and make a playoff push, I think Ayton is on the roster at the start of the 2023-2024 season.
Dave: I don’t think he would veto any trade. Why? Because he was willing to (or forced to) sign with Indiana to get the contract he wanted. He loves the fans and most/all of his teammates but he had to fight to get his money and now seems more content tuning out the same old authoritative voices. So now, if he’s told another team wants him I’m sure he’d be happy to go where he’s wanted. Even if my logic is off, I just don’t see DA vetoing a trade to a team that wants him just to force his way once again back onto this roster.
Rod: I honestly don’t want to hazard a guess on how open DA would be to being traded but I do doubt that he would consent to a trade with a team that’s probably not going to make the playoffs. We can guess at his mindset but we really don’t know it. Also, unless he’s already let the Suns know that he’s open to being traded, I doubt James Jones will be doing more than fielding inquiries from other teams and not actively looking for trade opportunities for DA.
Q3 – CP3’s salary for the 2023/24 season ($30.8 mil) becomes fully guaranteed on 6/28/23. Should the Suns attempt to trade him before then, waive him before that date if no trade can be made or role the dice and retain him for next season?
GuarGuar: I wouldn’t waive him but if there’s a trad route there that works for both him and us I’d do it. He’s not near the player he once was for us. Father Time seems to have caught up with him and that’s ok. I’m grateful for all he brought to this franchise. I highly question his ability to be a consistent star player now given his age and recent injuries.
OldAz: This assumes CP3 maintains something similar to what we have seen this year so far. He can still play but consistency has dropped off to where a great game is usually followed by a decent number of average ones. I would trade him before that date and if a deal cannot be found, I would probably keep him. I know that seems strange, but CP3 then becomes an expiring contract since the next year is non-guaranteed. This allows the Suns to keep trying to trade him until next season’s trade deadline or continue to use him in whatever capacity he can contribute.
Suns Geek: I might be alone on this, but I do not believe Chris Paul is going anywhere. I know he’s 37 and having a rough season but we have seen him have some overlooked games this year. I’m not a big football guy but, he’s our QB. Our engine, our point god. I think if he gets healthy and the Suns continue to improve, get healthy and make a playoff push, I think CP3 is here to stay. Maybe things get tricky once his contract is up but right now I don’t see why trading or waiving Paul would make sense.
Dave: No one wants to pay $30M to Chris Paul for another year. They could let him go by 6/28 (which gives him a $15.8 million going away present), and then try to re-sign him at the vet minimum (which would be a total of $18 million between the old and new contracts). Of course, Chris won’t go for that. He’ll want to recoup as much of the offset as he could, and will be a free agent to find any team he wants. I’m sure loads of other teams would give him the full MLE of $10-11 mil. The trouble for the Suns, though, is replacing even the ‘Rubio version’ of him without any cap space. So it’s possible they just retain Chris because of the math and cap rules, if they can’t replace him via trade.
Rod: I really don’t see a lot of trade options for CP3 before the deadline but maybe there might be something before 6/28 after the end of the season. Even then, the return would likely be underwhelming to say the least. Waiving CP3 at the end of the season wouldn’t really free up any cap space for the Suns but it would cut their tax bill a fair amount. I think the most likely scenario is that the Sun keep CP3 (on full salary) for the 2023-24 season and perhaps then attempt to trade him as an expiring contract (his salary for 2024-25 is NOT guaranteed) during that season. He’s now past his prime and on the decline but could still play a significant role on just about any team with limited minutes.
Any sort of significant trade before the upcoming deadline could change all of this though if it brought in a potential successor to CP3.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members for all their extra effort this week!
Last Week’s poll results
Last week’s question was, “If Booker returns at the end of this month and the Suns can stay healthy they will finish the season…”
02% – 1st or 2nd in the West.
26% – 3rd or 4th in the West.
48% – 5th or 6th in the West.
21% – As a play-in team (7th-10th).
03% – A lottery team.
A total of 537 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is…