However, in terms of having Point Guard talent of the NBA kind, the team lacks one and that is a major problem for a franchise that has missed six straight postseasons.
Unfortunately, for Phoenix, the battle to make the playoffs continues to get harder after every year in the ever improving Western Conference. Denver Nuggets missed last season’s playoffs by a game and signed Isaiah Thomas this offseason.
Los Angeles Lakers has missed the playoffs in five straights seasons and to end that streak, they signed the best player on the planet LeBron James. It gets better as the team successfully negotiated a buyout agreement with Luol Deng which could free up as much as $36million dollars in cap space next season. The free agents available in 2019 include Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and should Kevin Durant opt out of his contract, he could be targeted.
Aside Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors and six other teams, there is a deep list to get past to play beyond the regular season for Phoenix. Worsening matters is the lack of a top player in the league’s most difficult position to see the Suns through. Point Guard duties are difficult to execute and teams that have thrived in recent years have had a top Guard at the heart of its success. In Devin Booker, Shaquille Harrison, De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo Phoenix hopes have entrusted to achieve a playoff spot.
However, this group is far off the mark in facilitation and directing offenses to move Suns to the next level. A noteworthy development is Booker and Melton are Shooting Guards who are at their best when putting the ball in the basket than quarterbacking an entire team’s play. Okobo and Harrison are first year players coming into the league of Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Chris Paul.
Booker recently signed a five year, $158 million contract which takes effect at the start of the 2019-2020 season and has been tagged the team’s lead Point Guard little over a month to the season. As great as the intentions are, looking at the growth of Shooting Guards turned Point Guards like Westbrook and James Harden, same cannot be applied with Booker.
The 21 year old lacks Westbrook’s explosiveness to atone for his somewhat subpar grasp in reading games and falls behind Harden’s craftiness to create openings. Timelines run the course of NBA teams and Phoenix finds itself in a tough spot to achieve it modest goals of a playoff run. Over in the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee Bucks can’t be too sure of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s stay when his contract ends in 2021 if it fails to get the right talent around him to clinch a title or at least an NBA Finals appearance.
In Phoenix, Booker sounded off on his disappointment on missing out on the playoffs for all of his three season stint in the league. More playoff-less runs and Booker could end up forcing a trade out of Phoenix just like Dwight Howard did in Orlando and Kyrie did in Cleveland a season ago. Despite drafting DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges this year, the team’s future lies with Devin Booker and losing him is bound to send Suns plans for an extended title run in the next few years back a couple of seasons.
This is behind the team’s serious interest to add an established Guard to its roster and reports indicate inquests have been made about Terry Rozier, Spencer Dinwiddie and Patrick Beverley. Neither of these players pushes Phoenix beyond Minnesota Timberwolves nor Nuggets in the conference. Which makes sense team management is also interested in making a super trade for Portland Trailblazers Damian Lillard and Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker.
Both are 28 and All Star Guards who boost Phoenix’s playoff ratings immensely but Walker doesn’t intent on leaving Charlotte if his recent comments about free agency are anything to go by. Plus, he stands to make more money should he sign a new deal with Charlotte who can offer a fifth guaranteed year on his deal no other team can. Lillard on the other hand, has three more seasons to play on a contract that pays him $28 million on the average per season.
Suns have players to interest Portland in a trade deal with Josh Jackson, TJ Warren,Tyson Chandler’s expiring $13 million deal and a first round draft pick for the financial strangled Blazers to give up Lillard.
Phoenix Suns need a Point Guard and need to get it now.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter