An Uncle Rico Production

Phoenix Suns
From right to left: PG Chris Paul, SG Devin Booker, PF/C Deandre Ayton, SF Kevin Durant

The 2022-2023 NBA season has finally concluded. It was capped off by a convincing 4-1 take down of the Miami Heat by the first time NBA Champion Denver Nuggets. As usual, many head coaches & general managers with a lack of identity will try and emulate the roster success of their HC Michael Malone & GM Calvin Booth (as if it were asimple recipe to copy, cook, & serve).

Finding generational talents like the new “Stockton & Malone” (Nikola Jokic being John Stockton & Jamaal Murray being Karl Malone, naturally) is no easy feat. Keeping a roster & front office intact after seasons of failing to reach the ultimate goal also becomes increasingly difficult in this Janet Jackson “What Have You Done For Me Lately” league NBA fans currently consume. So, many overrated and/or underperforming teams will have to fight the urge to hit the “RESET” button.

One of those teams at the top of that list is the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns (PHX) can retain basically their entire roster from a season ago (where they were ousted by DEN in GM6/2nd round of the NBA Playoffs. They went down 0-2 early in the series only to win the next two on their home court. Unfortunately for them, that was it. They lost the next two, including being on the wrong side of history with yet another historic loss on their home floor when facing elimination (going down +30 at one point on the way to a 25 point defeat).

This new habit (being nourished around an oil drum fire, below the seedy underpasses of GM6 of the 2021 NBA Finals (Bucks) & GM7 of the 2022 NBA Playoff Semifinals (Mavs)) is an accustom no mammal, from front office executives to casual housecats strewing about on the laps of pissed off Suns

fans, want to see repeated. They desperately need another trip to rehab.

I say “another trip” because the first trip came in the form of a midseason trade this past spring for NBA superstar Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets. They gave up two of their brightest young players (SF Mikal Bridges/PF Cam Johnson) and an ocean liner of 1st round picks (‘23, ‘25, ‘27, ‘29, all unprotected). PHX was able to get BKN’s ‘28 1st round pick and PF Jae Crowder off their books, but the acquisition of the contracts for SF T.J. Warren & SF Kevin Durant made that a loss as well.

phoenix suns

(Future Hall of Famers & current PHX Suns: PG Chris Paul & SF Kevin Durant)

Nonetheless, Suns GM James Jones & new owner Mat Ishbia wanted to go all-in, and they certainly did. Attracting top-tier talent before trade-deadlines is no small feat. Such moves can benefit PHX in the long run as well; a sort of beacon or “Bat Signal” to high-yield talent letting them know that Phoenix is a place where big names want to go. And with the disgraceful reign & exit of former PHX owner Robert Sarver still lingering, it was optics for Ishbia & his front office to assure star talent that Phoenix is a city with “Big Brand” draw.

Unfortunately, the gamble didn’t work out, PHX got bounced, and the same issues still remained:

1) Is HC Monty Williams a good enough motivator & game-planner in crunchtime?

2) Is PG Chris Paul too old?

3) Is there any way to help Deandre Ayton NOT be afraid of his shadow?

These questions and more will be answered tomorrow as we continue with Part II of “NBA OFFSEASON NEEDS: PHOENIX SUNS”.

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