After a brutal 2017-18 season, the Suns didn’t show much of an improvement this year, which is especially disappointing since they had first-year head coach Igor Kokoskov running the show. On the more positive side of things, Devin Booker had an extremely productive campaign. The young 2-guard put up 26.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, averages that could only be matched by LeBron James, James Harden and Damian Lillard this season. Additionally, Deandre Ayton was another positive this year. The big man put up 16.3 points and 10.2 rebounds as a rookie, producing at a very high level for a 20-year-old. His defense in the paint needs to get a lot better, but he did show promise guarding some bigs and wings on the perimeter. The additions of Tyler Johnson and Kelly Oubre were decent moves, though neither lit the Earth on fire as Suns. Both players are free agents this offseason.
Overall, the team still needs a ton of work to become, at the very least, playoff contenders. That’s not just from a talent perspective, either; the locker room needs an overhaul as well, as the team’s culture isn’t great and lacks a veteran voice.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Devin Booker: $27,250,000
TJ Warren: $10,810,000
Deandre Ayton: $9,575,040
Josh Jackson: $7,059,480
Mikal Bridges: $4,166,280
De’Anthony Melton: $1,416,852
Elie Okobo: $1,416,852
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Jimmer Fredette: $1,988,119
Raymond Spalding: $1,416,852
Tyler Johnson: $19,245,370
Kelly Oubre: Restricted
After years of futility at the position, acquiring their point guard of the future to place next to Booker should be a top priority. Also, finding a legitimate difference-maker at the power forward spot to complete their starting frontcourt of the future. The Suns likewise need to add good depth at multiple positions, but primarily at guard. Finding more shooting will also be important since they were the worst three-point shooting team in the league this year. Finally, looking for reliable, seasoned veterans who can help shift the culture around the team towards a healthier one that could be more conducive to winning.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENCY TARGETS
Terry Rozier (restricted): Rozier would give them a strong defender and shot-maker to place alongside Booker. A sign-and-trade could also make sense here, especially if the Celtics are successful in re-signing Kyrie Irving this summer.
D’Angelo Russell (restricted): Might be tough to get him away from Brooklyn, especially as a restricted free agent, but if the Nets strike gold in free agency, Russell could be pried free. His high-level scoring and shot-making as a lead guard might clash with Booker, but if the duo forms a strong synergy, it could become a scary tandem.
Ricky Rubio: Experienced. Good defender and great passer. Historically has been beloved by teammates, so he would be a good addition for the locker room.
Derrick Rose: Veteran option who enjoyed a strong bounce-back campaign. Injury concerns could drive his price down and make him an attainable target.
Patrick Beverley: Tough-nosed defender who would be a great addition for the locker room due to his will to win. His defense next to Booker would give the backcourt a huge boost.
TJ McConnell: His mundane numbers – 6.2 points and 3.5 assists – don’t come close to measuring his impact. Could be a sneaky good option at a reasonable price.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
Mike Conley: Not only did he almost get dealt at this past deadline, his name could reportedly pop back up on the trade market in the offseason. His addition would give Phoenix an elite backcourt. Would be great for a locker-room culture that needs tidying up.
Monte Morris: Proven to be an extremely reliable point guard with the Nuggets who probably warrants a starting gig, one which the Suns could provide. Second league-wide in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.6) while shooting 41.9 percent from three. Could be the perfect low-usage option to play with Booker. Denver could be open to moving him since they have Jamal Murray as their primary point guard of the future.
Kris Dunn: He was reportedly available at the deadline. If nothing else, he plays great defense and could help mask some of the team’s deficiencies on that end of the floor. Good playmaker, as his 6.0 assist per game average would attest to.
2019 DRAFT ASSETS
Not only do the Suns have their own first-round pick for this year (lottery odds give them the highest chance of landing the No. 2 pick for 2019), but if the Milwaukee Bucks’ pick falls between No. 4 and No. 16, they acquire that pick as well (from the Eric Bledsoe trade). Also have their second-round pick this year.