The Phoenix Suns are bad.
Their losing streak reached five straight games. In total, they have lost six of their last seven games. Their next two games could also be losses – on the road against the Kawhi-full Clippers, then at home to host the even healthier and effervescent Pelicans. The Suns haven’t even had a three-game regular-season losing streak, let alone five or seven, since the pre-CP3 days.
Injuries are piling up and the level of play is rapidly disintegrating.
They really need an infusion of new talent, don’t they? Teams can make trades for another two months, but new reports suggest that the Suns may have limited authority in trades this season while the Suns are for sale.
For now, the Suns have to make do with what they have. Suns head coach Monty Williams has been there for 8 straight losses and now for 5 straight losses.
“We were here our 1st year when we went through a period like this and we kept on doing the next right thing. That’s what we need to do right now.” Monty Williams#Suns lost its season record eight times in a row in December 2019.
They have lost their season record five times in a row in December 2022. pic.twitter.com/8Tp1ultkP0
—Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) December 14, 2022
Between those losing streaks, the Suns have been a title contender with the league’s best record and two playoff series.
Less than two weeks ago, the Suns were defying the odds and going high. Although they missed a trio of key players for a month, they had the West’s best record at 15-6, an MVP contender to Devin Booker and won a handful of early-season accolades, including the player of the Month (Devin Booker), Player of the Week (Deandre Ayton) and Coach of the Month (Monty Williams).
That was just 12 days ago! The wheels have since come off.
First, they dropped a winnable home game against the lowly Rockets, a mere hit on the radar, before they simply forgot how to play basketball. They barely showed up in a pair of embarrassing losses to the Mavericks and Celtics then got run over twice in New Orleans. They couldn’t even fight the Rockets last night, missing almost every shot in the first half as they racked up a 22-point deficit.
Along the way, they picked up Chris Paul (0-4 since returning) but lost Devin Booker (ankle, hamstring), Deandre Ayton (ankle) and Cameron Payne (foot) to everyday soft tissue injuries. .
You can’t blame injuries for the losing streak because the loss came first. Booker (averaged 29 points per game through Dec. 2) scored just 11 points in 30 minutes in the Dallas debacle before rolling his ankle late, then just 14 points in 36 minutes in the Dallas first loss. Pelicans before shooting the hammy. Ayton (averaged 19/11 over the past month) didn’t show up for the Rockets’ loss with just 5 points on 2-10 shooting and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes before rolling his ankle just before halftime. time.
Now the Suns are down to geriatric Chris Paul, also lame Mikal Bridges (knee hyper-extension that could have been made worse on Wednesday night) and a bunch of old-time substitutes to take on some of the league’s best teams.
Rumor has it that, given the circumstances of a 5-fight losing streak that could easily become 7+, Booker and Ayton could play in the Clippers game tomorrow night.
Booker’s news comes from our pal, Jersey insider Flex:
I’m told Devin Booker is doing much better and barring an unforeseen setback, he should be back in action Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers. The injuries continue to pile up with Ayton, Payne and Bridges all affected tonight. Times are tough right now for the Suns, but these things happen.
— FLEX from Jersey (@FlexFromJersey) December 14, 2022
And the Ayton news comes from our friendly traveling reporter, Duane Rankin of azcentral.com.
I’d bet you, if the Suns were still No. 1 in the West, Book and DA would take a few extra days off to be 100% right.
It would be nice to have reinforcements.
Like, kind of replacement for Jae Crowderthe 5th starter for the Suns on their Cinderella run across the West who inexplicably decided to stay home this season while the Suns completed a trade.
No trade has yet materialized, and recently NBA insider Eric Pincus added a new hurdle that Suns general manager James Jones may face when trying to trade Crowder as part of a deal. deal that makes the Suns better.
Suns can’t trade future first-round picks?
Bleacher Report insider Eric Pincus quotes a source saying that Suns may not be able to commit to anything ‘long term’ until a new owner is in place and, in Pincus’ words, “that can only be a problem if the Suns have to give up first-round compensation.”
The Suns all have their draft picks going forward. Sure, the picks might not be that high (probably 25-30th overall), but a first-round pick still has value. Over the past two years, Jones has traded his 2020-22 first-round picks for Chris Paul, Landry Shamet and Torrey Craig.
If the Suns are forced to trade only players for players, and not accept significant new future funds either, it would have a serious impact on the Suns’ ability to improve the team this season and beyond.
Acting Team Governor Sam Garvin spoke to Duane Rankin about azcentral.com ($) and the Arizona Republic this week. Garvin — who has been part of the Suns’ partnership with Robert Sarver since 2004 — handles day-to-day ownership duties this season while the suspended Sarver attempts to sell the team to the highest bidder. Looks like the offers are already in the $3 billion range.
It’s entirely possible that Garvin and Sarver have decided that the payroll and assets will be put on hold until a new owner is in place. That could mean chief executive James Jones has the power to make trades as long as the bottom line is essentially the same money and future picks.
Prior to the season, Garvin halted extension offers to Cam Johnson, which were reportedly $10-30 million below market (rumors you believe).
“I’ve always been a Cam fan,” Garvin told Duane. “and I’m counting on James to figure out what was the best offer we could make to help retain Cam and keep us competitive. Kind of like what happened 18 months ago with DA (Deandre Ayton). We didn’t get there then, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get there in the end. I do not know why [Cam] kind of said [negotiations were negatively impacted by the unclear ownership situation]. I wouldn’t need anyone’s authority to do that, but I rely on James and our basketball operations staff to do all the negotiations and numbers.
Of course, he has the power to give the extension. But he could easily have had a cap on that dollar amount to stay below the market.
Garvin also says he expects a Crowder trade at some point and has empowered James Jones to carry it out.
“The arrangement which [Crowder’s] don’t enter, but get paid was developed by James. I know James and his team, Ryan (Resch), Trevor (Bukstein) and Morgan (Cato), they have had a lot of discussions with a lot of teams who are interested in Jae. As James said, there is no magic wand or timeline. It’s going to happen when it’s going to happen, but I think Jae is going to go somewhere and do well and I think we’re going to take advantage of Jae.
Again, the Suns front office might have the power to figure something out, but there may be limits to what they can include as assets in the deal. We do not know. We only know that no agreement has been reached yet.
To what extent is Robert Sarver still involved, despite his suspension? Garvin explains, in his own way.
“For super extraordinary items, I have the opportunity to consult (Sarver) and get his opinion on it, but day-to-day things, regular exchanges, business decisions, all business and basketball matters, I am the last word.”
“I communicate regularly with Robert. The suspension prevents him from being involved in any day-to-day contact with employees, coming to NBA premises, anything like that, but there is a mechanism authorized by the NBA where, on ‘extraordinary items’ , if I need it, I can communicate with him. So we communicate regularly. I wouldn’t say it’s often, but regularly.
Garvin made jokes about what constitutes “super extraordinary” – using examples like acquiring up to 3 contracts to double the team’s payroll, or moving the team to another city – while saying he talks to Sarver regularly.
“He is still the majority shareholder. He owns 30% of the shares and he manages the sale. So for super awesome stuff like that, I get to check him out and get his opinion on it, but day-to-day stuff, regular trading, trading decisions, all business and basketball matters, I am the last word. ”
It could very well be that there are rules in place — no trading of future first-round picks, no commitments to take more future money than already planned — that hamper all Suns offers this season.
We’ll find out, based on any Jae Crowder swaps. If the Suns only bring in the same amount or less money in future years and refuse to include first-round picks, you have your answer.
What can the Suns trade? Here’s a breakdown of their assets, the likely value of those assets, and the likelihood of them being traded, according to our Bright Side contributors (me, Brandon, John V, and Ethan S).
We collectively think…
- Suns’ top trading assets – Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson – unlikely to be traded this year
- Deandre Ayton is also highly unlikely to be traded this year given that he can veto any trade and frankly there are few players available that would be worth trading for. , which makes the Suns even better.
- Jae Crowder is the only guy teams might think could start or play big minutes for them in the playoffs (and they really are your best buyers for Jae)
- everyone on the roster is mostly paid – rebuilding teams won’t be excited about them and competing teams might not even see them as playoff-level rotation players
Best of the Suns available the commercial assets this season — assuming they want to build rather than rebuild — are Jae Crowder and their first-round picks, with everyone else just salary-matching fodder.
So you can understand why James Jones is waiting for the best possible deal on Jae, especially if he can’t even include a first-round pick or claw back some money for the future year in the deal yet.