Phoenix Suns: 5 steps to the ‘ideal’ 2019 offseason

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images /
1 of 6
Phoenix Suns
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images /

It may already be too late for the “perfect” offseason for the Phoenix Suns, but here’s how they can have an ideal summer in the 2019 NBA Draft and free agency.

With the Utah Jazz trading for Mike Conley and the New Orleans Pelicans unlikely to make Jrue Holiday available, it’s entirely possible the ship has already sailed on the “perfect” offseason for the Phoenix Suns.

While Conley’s age, injury history and salary over the next two years were obvious concerns, a two-way floor general of his (or Holiday’s) caliber would’ve reset expectations for the upcoming season, in which Phoenix has little hope of avoiding what will become a 10-year playoff drought.

After missing out on No. 1 pick (Zion Williamson) and No. 2 pick (Ja Morant) in the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, and subsequently falling all the way to No. 6, the sensible route would be for general manager James Jones to explore multiple trades, either moving down in the draft to acquire a future asset or trading out of it entirely to secure the services of a veteran point guard.

Unfortunately, a multitude reports to this point indicate that won’t be Jones’ plan of action on Thursday. The Suns weren’t interested in trading the No. 6 pick Mike Conley. They weren’t interested in Lonzo Ball. They weren’t interested in Spencer Dinwiddie.

Barring an unforeseen and unlikely trade for Chris Paul, the Suns’ options to find an established floor general are quickly drying up. Even a rookie point guard with Morant’s ceiling wouldn’t have helped this team take steps toward a 30-win season in 2019-20, so expecting the same of Darius Garland or Coby White — two potential Suns targets — would be a fool’s errand.

That leaves a draft-day trade, but Phoenix’s options on the market are slim to none. Even if the Suns were interested in Lonzo Ball, the New Orleans Pelicans don’t seem keen to trade him given his fit in Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo offense. Conley is heading to Salt Lake City. Chris Paul is older, more injury-prone and on a worse contract than Conley was.

In free agency, the options aren’t much better. While Patrick Beverley would be a great addition given his defense, 3-point shooting and insatiable competitive fire, he’ll be pursued by a number of teams this summer, including more attractive suitors like the Los Angeles Lakers and his hometown Chicago Bulls. Ricky Rubio could be another option, but he’ll have suitors too, including the Indiana Pacers. Darren Collison is reportedly not interested in joining a rebuild.

The Milwaukee Bucks just traded Tony Snell in order to clear out more room to match contract offers for restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon, so it’d take a sizable overpay to secure his services. Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker would never consider Phoenix. Terry Rozier is not a good NBA player. Cory Joseph should be a last resort.

The pickings will be slim, especially for an unattractive free agency destination known most recently for its losing ways and front office chaos.

However, as the Suns enter the 2019 offseason, there’s some reason for hope. This will be Jones’ first summer in charge, and he’s already succeeded with the trade for Kelly Oubre Jr. The Suns are reportedly holding discussions on trading the No. 6 pick, Josh Jackson and/or T.J. Warren, as they should be.

There’s a way this team — which showed signs of life down the stretch last season, when everyone was healthy and a ho-hum combo guard in Tyler Johnson filled in at the 1 — can make it through the summer with more hope for the new campaign. The 2020 NBA Playoffs are likely out of reach, but here are five steps to the ideal summer for the Phoenix Suns.