Happy Free Agency season, Suns fans!
I had planned on writing up an article that encompassed all kinds of players the Suns might target. Guards, forwards, centers, you name it. The Suns had other plans, and went ahead and traded for Landry Shamet. They sent away Jevon Carter, a player many of us loved, as well as the 29th pick in the 2021 draft.
That being the case, we can assume they plan on playing him quite a bit at backup two, and even allowing him some increased ball-handling responsibilities to play next to Booker at times. They will almost certainly bring back Cam Payne, so they have their third guard already, but it can never hurt to improve your fourth guard slot as well, especially when the third guard isn’t quite at the level you might want, and one of the two-star starters is 36.
So, the Suns have filled their slot for perimeter players that will actually be in the rotation getting minutes. What more do they have to fill? They still need a big to replace the injured Dario, who is hopefully better than Frank Kaminsky. They still need a player to replace Craig who will presumably leave for more money. They also need to replace any of their veteran minimum players who decide to leave for more money or more playing time.
For this article, I will focus on who I believe the Suns will be getting with their MLE, which will almost certainly be a Big. Afterwards, I’ll list some names I could see them pursuing for veteran minimum deals to round out the roster.
Number one on my list is Daniel Theis. Theis is a do it all big who would be a solid backup center pretty much anywhere he goes. He can shoot a little. Sets screens like a madman. He can rebound. He can defend decently, even if he’s not a true “rim protector”. The Suns can go in a few directions with this backup spot, defense, offense, a mix of both, and Daniel is right in the sweet spot of being versatile offensively, but not a slouch on defense.
Mike and Sam on the Timeline podcast made a fantastic video on him recently on their youtube channel which I highly recommend you give a watch. Several of the guys I talk about on here actually have their own video on that channel, so I suggest taking a look.
Next on my list is Nerlens Noel. If any of you reading this read my tweets, you might vaguely remember that I’ve been pining for the Suns to acquire Nerlens as a backup big going back to last offseason. He is such a good defender. Noel has insane length and athleticism.
Nerlens can jump out of the gym and alter passes and slap away dunk attempts. He is a difference-maker on the defensive end, no question. His offense is another matter entirely, but for 15 minutes per game to spell Ayton, I don’t have much of an issue with that.
Cody isn’t the defender some of these guys are, and he isn’t really the jack of all trades like Theis. He has a very raw outside shot. Perhaps that can be developed more. However, what he does have is solid passing for a big, and sneaky decent defense. Very good scorer in the paint. Can switch onto the perimeter on defense better than some other centers. He has little to no rim protection ability, however.
He of the many upper case letters in his name. Number four on my list. JaVale has shown to be a solid big man over the course of the last several years, after really a disastrous start to his career. Multiple titles with the Warriors, then going to the Lakers, playing a key role in big minutes. He would be fantastic. Solid defender, decent hands. Alters shots and passes.
Gorgui was a name being brought up last season when the Suns seemed like they could use some more big man depth, and then the Spurs scooped him up. Granted, he almost immediately sprained his shoulder and was no longer playing, but who knows if that would have happened with the Suns.
He is sort of like Theis in that he can kind of do a little bit of everything. Dieng recently added a three-point shot to his arsenal as well. While he lacks size and strength compared to some of the big bodies he might bang against at the center position, but for short bursts, he is pretty good. Solid defender. One of the best in the league at taking charges.
Makes good decisions (except for pissing off Devin Booker). Nothing he does will thrill you unless you’re thrilled by good fundamentals, but he plays good basketball. There’s a little bit of bad blood there with him and Booker, but Booker and Troy Daniels overcame their differences and played together, I don’t see why Booker wouldn’t do the same with Dieng, especially understanding how badly they need another solid big. Also, he would probably cost less than the other guys listed. He might even be had for the minimum, but if the others aren’t available, it makes sense to pay him a bit more.
That’s it for who I believe the Suns will target in their search for a solid backup big for Ayton. However, there are a few that might be possibilities I didn’t discuss to keep a lookout for: Dwight Howard, Dewayne Dedmon, Hassan Whiteside, Blake Griffin, Taj Gibson
There was recently a rumor that the Suns were interested in Reggie Bullock in free agency. I don’t see that happening. He will command too much money, the Suns just traded for Shamet, and the Suns need to replace Dario with a decent Big, so that’s where their MLE will be going. Bullock only makes sense if the Suns do some sort of trade. They already have Bridges, Jae, and Cam Johnson. He would be an amazing Torrey Craig replacement, but he won’t be for the same reason the Suns might need a Torrey Craig replacement.
Other players I think the Suns might have interest in (as a Craig replacement, but also for depth in general) that they could use the BAE or a Veteran Minimum exception on:
Maurice Harkless, Justise Winslow, Otto Porter Jr, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Garrett Temple, Tony Snell, Ish Smith, Shaquille Harrison.
The Suns could also of course bring back any of their current veteran minimum players, like Kaminsky, Galloway, Moore, and Nader.
Chances are, the Suns just use their MLE on a big, then make a couple of additions using vet min exceptions, and run this thing back. We will find out whether we are in for any big surprises come Monday. Buckle up, Suns fans.
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