Phoenix Suns: 5 potential targets in 2019 NBA free agency

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Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images /
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Phoenix Suns
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1. Patrick Beverley

D’Angelo Russell is the best point guard the Suns could realistically sign this summer. Malcolm Brogdon is the most attainable but pricy “best fit,” Ricky Rubio is an ambitious long shot and Cory Joseph is the respectable but underwhelming safety net.

That leaves the Suns with Patrick Beverley in the No. 1 spot, since he’s the perfect blend of great fit, affordable, realistic, defensive-minded and veteran experience that this team needs so badly.

Arizona Sports‘ John Gambadoro has already confirmed Beverley is one of the Suns’ free agency targets this summer, which leaves James Jones and company to decide which of their realistic options to pursue first.

Even as he approaches his 31st birthday in mid-July, Beverley will have no shortage of suitors. He’s expected to be pursued by 5-6 teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers (who have a point guard opening next to LeBron James and freaking Anthony Davis), Los Angeles Clippers (where he thrived as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s mentor last year) and Chicago Bulls (his hometown team).

All of those teams have needs at point guard, and all of them have a better case on paper for landing his services. However, ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst said on a recent podcast that the Suns are “the team that are really interested in him” and detailed a hypothetical scenario where they could make a strong case for him:

"“The Phoenix Suns, let’s say they fly to Patrick Beverley’s home and James Jones and Jeff Bower and Devin Booker are in Patrick Beverley’s living room at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. What does he do? He’s being offered potentially $15 million a year, who knows how many years, can he afford to sit around and wait? … [The Clippers] are really going to want Patrick Beverley back, but Patrick Beverley can’t sit around.”"

With the Clippers chasing bigger fish like Kawhi Leonard and a second max free agent, the Suns should prioritize Beverley above all else if they really want him. That kind of attention, and an offer in the $11-15 million range annually would have to be the game plan in order to steal him away from other, more attractive suitors.

While that might feel like another Trevor Ariza waiting to happen, there’s a big difference between Contract Year Trevor Ariza wasting away in the desert and a flamethrower of competitive fire like Pat Bev, especially if he’s on a two- or three-year deal. He was the heart and soul of the 2018-19 Clippers, a plucky team who defied expectations by not only making the playoffs, but stealing two games from the Warriors in the first round.

Beverley’s numbers (7.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last year) may not leap off the stat sheet, but he has all of the qualities Phoenix needs in a point guard next to Devin Booker. He can shoot and spread the floor (38 percent from 3 for his career), facilitate without dominating the offense, harass opponents on defense and instill the fear of God in these youngsters when they blow an assignment.

Pat Bev is one of the most fiery competitors in the league and as a well-respected veteran and mentor, he wouldn’t tolerate this organization’s losing culture. He’s the perfect kind of player to help turn this group’s attitude upside down and make sure the Suns establish a tougher, more defensively-oriented mindset.

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Rather than spend max money on a questionable fit like D’Angelo Russell or pay up for good-but-not-great options, the Suns should overpay for Patrick Beverley. He’d not only raise the team’s ceiling and floor for the upcoming season, but would also serve admirably in the starting point guard role until Phoenix is able to groom up a proper long-term successor.