Following not one but two blockbuster trades in the last four months, the Phoenix Suns are in desperate need of depth. With Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton, the Suns have plenty of talent but are also incredibly top-heavy, resulting in them trying to address their bench situation in an unorthodox way. That includes holding an offseason tryout of sorts for select free agents, including two former high lottery picks.
Jabari Parker was selected second overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2015 and was expected to be the team’s next franchise player. That, of course, turned out to be Giannis Antetokounmpo, though injuries played a role in Parker’s failure to live up to the hype. Parker tore his ACL not once but twice in his first four seasons, forcing The Bucks to move on from him.
Since leaving Milwaukee, Parker has bounced around the NBA, playing for five other teams in four seasons, though he didn’t play at all last year. Still, he is only 28, and had he not torn his ACL twice, he could have been a star. Phoenix is under no illusion that that could happen were they to sign him; instead, they are looking for cheap veteran players to fill a role.
With just six players under contract at the moment and the Suns already over the luxury tax, they will need to fill at least seven more roster spots to reach the league minimum. Phoenix can’t just fill out their remaining roster spots with undrafted rookies, however, which would be the cheapest possible option but perhaps not the best option.
In addition to Parker, Phoenix is also working out Stanley Johnson, who last played for the San Antonio Spurs. Despite being waived by the Spurs (who were tanking), he played surprisingly well. Johnson has always been a stout defender but displayed an improved jump shot and the ability to make hard drives to the rim. If he gets an opportunity in Phoenix, he could emerge as a potential rotation player.
Phoenix’s need to fill out their roster opens the door for Parker and Johnson. After all, they won’t cost the Suns much, have NBA experience, and probably don’t expect to play but can play spot minutes if needed. Between them and undrafted rookies, the Suns might be more willing to take a shot on them and could sign them to training camp deals, though we’ll have to see whether they’ll make the final roster.