When the Phoenix Suns selected Deandre Ayton with the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, they created what might be the best young core in the entire NBA.
Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren and now Ayton will seemingly be the cornerstones that Phoenix will build around moving forward.
Best of all for the Suns, each of those four players has the versatility and athleticism to play multiple positions, if asked. Therefore, the team will have some flexibility in who they sign in free agency.
As one of the few teams that will be far under the league’s salary cap after they renounce the rights of a few players, the Suns will seemingly be able to add some veteran talent this summer.
Even though Phoenix’s young group should receive the bulk of the playing time next season, adding some experienced pros to the roster could help both on the floor, in the locker room and on the practice court. Judging by their 21-win season and their three-year run of abysmal records, they could certainly use some help.
“We think and hope we’ll add some veterans that will take us from 21 wins to whatever next year,” general manager Ryan McDonough said, per Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. “… Playing with some veterans will put these guys in position to be successful as rookies and that’s something we value. We were aggressive (in the draft) and we’re going to continue to be aggressive as soon as free agency starts.”
McDonough and his front office staff are expected to renounce the rights to point guard Elfrid Payton and center Alex Len, making them both unrestricted free agents. That would free up enough cap space ($15-20 million) to go after a few vets.
McDonough told Bordow that the Suns are targeting two positions in particular: point guard and power forward (specifically a stretch-four).
Free agent point guards that could fit the mold for the Suns include Derrick Rose, Shane Larkin, Raymond Felton, Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson, Tim Frazier and Michael Carter-Williams. None of those ball-handlers would likely command an ultra-lucrative deal.
Some stretch-four options could include Rudy Gay, Ersan Ilyasova, Michael Beasley, Mike Scott, Anthony Tolliver, Luke Babbitt or Jeff Green. All of them have the ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc and would most likely be cheap solutions.
It will be interesting to see who McDonough and company surround the team’s young core with.