Ever since the hiring of Ryan McDonough from the Celtics as the new general manager, things have been running pretty smoothly for Phoenix. So far they hired the “perfect” coach, in that Jeff Hornacek has some assistant coaching experience, has great ties to the city and franchise, but isn’t a big name so that there aren’t any ridiculous expectations.
The tandem of McDonough, Hornacek and the group of other scouts and advisers they surrounded themselves with then had a successful draft. For a team that is rebuilding and needs to be bad next season to ensure a high draft position in a star-studded 2014 draft class they picked a skilled center. Alex Len will take some time to grow into a starter, also making Marcin Gortat expendable some time in the future. With the 30th pick they selected Archie Goodwin from Kentucky, and with the 57th overall they took Alex Oriakhi.
Just a day after the beginning of the free agency period, The Suns were involved in a trade that furthered the organization’s goals. They are collecting promising, young, and athletic players, while shedding older players and the more unwieldy contracts so that next summer they have more cap flexibility. In a three-way trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, the Suns acquired Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler from LA in return for Jared Dudley. The Bucks got a second-round pick from both the Suns and Clippers and gave Lob City a shooter in J.J. Reddick.
This is what the Suns’ depth chart looks like right now
- PG – Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Kendall Marshall, Diante Garrett, Archie Goodwin
- SG – Shannon Brown, Wesley Johnson, Malcolm Lee
- SF – Caron Butler, P.J. Tucker, Michael Beasley, Marcus Morris
- PF – Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Channing Frye, Alex Oriakhi
- C – Marcin Gortat, Jermaine O’Neal, Alex Len
Nineteen players on a roster are far too many for a season, so expect many players to be waived or traded for draft picks. Malcolm Lee was taken just to get Archie Goodwin a spot earlier, so don’t expect him to stay. I expect either Kendall Marshall and/or Diante Garrett to be gone, depending on if they want to have a third point guard on the roster for blowouts. People are worried about so many point guards on the roster, but Dragic could play SG. It worked at times last season with Dragic and Marshall. Bledsoe and Goodwin are both aggressive and athletic guards who potentially could play both spots for stretches.
I don’t know what is going to happen to Caron Butler. He now makes the most money on the Suns roster as soon as he was traded (even though the trade is not official until after July 10th). I’m thinking we’ll keep him until the trade deadline and trade his expiring contract for a draft pick. Tucker is staying. Phoenix gets him at a value and he plays hard all the time and has very good defense. Beasley should be gone. He has a massive contract and isn’t even starting. Luis Scola should be traded to a contender for a young player from last year’s, this year’s, or next year’s draft. Same goes for Gortat and Jermaine O’Neal. Get the most you can from all of them. If the right trade comes along, get rid of either or both of the Morris twins, but not just for the sake of it.
If everything goes the way I think it should here is what the Suns roster should look like at the start of the season.
- PG – Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Kendall Marshall
- SG – Wesley Johnson, Shannon Brown, Archie Goodwin
- SF- Caron Butler, P.J. Tucker, Marcus Morris
- PF – Channing Frye, Markieff Morris, Alex Oriakhi
- C – Marcin Gortat, Alex Len
Maybe add another small contract that would be netted in one of the trades, but this way we don’t waste money and forfeit a high 2014 draft pick with a flashy free agent pickup. Additionally, the young guys get playing time to improve their long-term value. I think this group of players has the right balance of rookies and veterans that the young players can learn and grow.
I would say that Gortat, Butler and Brown (who all have expiring contracts) should be traded at the deadline in February.
Add a couple first round draft picks in a loaded draft year (one of which may be Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Julius Randle) and a 2014 top-tier free agent and you have the makings of a contender in three years. I have faith in McDonough that he will make the correct choices that fans will be ultimately happy with, despite a disappointing year this upcoming season.