2020 Offseason Outlook - Phoenix Suns


Overview


At the conclusion of the 2019-2020 NBA Season, the Phoenix Suns had a record of 34-39 which placed them at 10th in the Western Conference and 17th in the league. The Suns have a case as one of the most dysfunctional franchise in the league over the last decade and just about everything that could’ve gone wrong has. However, the bubble provided hope for Phoenix fans with the team stepping up to make an inspired 8-0 run at the playoffs which they missed out on by half a game. Devin Booker finally played like a legitimate star of the league, finishing second in bubble MVP race, and averaging 30.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting while setting up his team with 6 assists per game during the eight-game stretch. Deandre Ayton emerged as a very promising second option, proving himself on both sides of the floor after a season filled with drama. The Suns have also found their coach in Monty Williams. He has commanded respect from his team and trust from his star player and has proven that he is certainly the man that can take this organisation to the next level. This offseason, the Phoenix suns will be looking to get a solid point guard to put next to Devin Booker. It has been rumoured that they are interested in either trading for Chris Paul or signing Fred VanVleet and I am confident that they will enter next season with one of them. The Suns look to make the playoffs next season in a loaded western conference and will need to make the right decisions this offseason in order to do so.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Phoenix Suns have eight players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020-2021 NBA season. Cameron Payne and Elie Okobo have non-guaranteed salary which I expect to become fully guaranteed early into the offseason. The Suns also have a couple of team options to consider. Frank Kaminsky has a $5 million team option which I expect to be declined. While Kaminsky is a serviceable player, he is only a third string center and the Suns will want to keep as much cap space available in order to go after Fred VanVleet in free agency. Cheick Diallo also has a $1.8 million team option which I expect to be picked up. Diallo can slot into the role of third string center as a cheaper option than Kaminsky which will free up cap space without compromising on talent too much. Dario Saric and Jevon Carter will be restricted free agents along with two-way player, Tariq Owens. Aron Baynes will be Phoenix’s only unrestricted free agent and they will have bird rights. The Suns also project to have the $4.7 million room exception available to use in free agency.


Depth Chart –


Free Agency


The Phoenix Suns will enter the 2020 free agency period with approximately $17 million in cap space but could gain up to around $20 million should they make certain roster decisions. Their main priority will be going after and signing Fred VanVleet to play next to Devin Booker should they be unable to trade for Chris Paul. In my opinion, VanVleet is a better option as he will be a much cheaper contract and he fits the general age of the team. The only roadblock in signing VanVleet will be if they can offer him enough money with their cap space as he has made it very clear he is looking to be paid this offseason. They will have to compete with teams like New York but ultimately, I believe this is the best fit for him and therefore they should be able to negotiate a fair deal with VanVleet. The Suns will also be looking to do everything they can to retain one of the best backup centers in the league in Aron Baynes. There is a world were they are able to sign both Fred VanVleet and Baynes but they will need to make the right decisions, Baynes will have to be willing to take a lower offer to stay in Phoenix and interest from other teams will need to be minimal. Fortunately, there are few teams that could use Baynes that are able to offer a large enough contract to pry him away from Phoenix so they should be able to retain him. Finally, the Suns will be looking to retain their restricted free agents which should be easy enough as they so not project to attract too much interest from other teams around the league.


2020 Draft


The Phoenix Suns will have the 10th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. If they don’t use this pick in a trade with the Thunder, the Suns will most certainly look to draft with this pick to add to their group of young talent that they are building for the future. With question marks over Baynes’ free agency, it is likely they will bring in a big who can stretch the floor and provide support on the defensive end. With the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns should look to select Jalen Smith, a 6’10” power forward/center out of Maryland. Smith is a defensive big man who has the potential to stretch the floor and is exactly what the Suns need next to Ayton. He does have some athleticism and injury concerns, but this is something that can be addressed and fixed with hard work and team doctors. If he can build some size and strength and continue his proven progression that he has shown throughout college, Smith can become a core member of the Suns in the future and earn his way into the starting line-up in seasons to come.


Summary


The Phoenix Suns will look to significantly improve this offseason through free agency, drafting and player development. They project to bring in a quality point guard to play next to Devin Booker and run the offence. They will also look to bring in some more depth at the forward position as they make their push to earn respect within the league and rise into the playoffs in a loaded western conference.


Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –

Players IN: Fred VanVleet, Jalen Smith

Players OUT: Frank Kaminsky


Trade Potential: Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr