After yesterday’s report from Shams Charania regarding Kyrie Irving’s free agent choice, it likely means D’Angelo Russell will become an unrestricted free agent.
Oh, and as you might’ve heard by now, the Phoenix Suns have a slight need for a point guard.
Here’s why D’Angelo Russell is the perfect fit for the Suns other than he's alive and a point guard:
D’Angelo Russell is an ascending, 23 year old, 6'5 All Star point guard. In addition to notching a career high with over 21 points per game, he also averaged over 7 assists per game last year, shot well from beyond the three point line (37%) and made clutch shot after clutch shot leading his team to the 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Another bonus in signing D'Angelo? The Suns would be able to keep the #6 overall pick, allowing them to add two impact players this offseason.
Paying Russell a max contract wouldn’t be easy. The Suns would be put into a position with zero trade leverage and would likely have to give away TJ Warren and Josh Jackson.
But they should do it.
The PG market is not going to be kind to the Suns otherwise. After the Mike Conley trade to the Jazz, their only other viable option would be Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is a perfect fit but as a restricted free agent, the Suns would have to hope the Bucks simply decided not to match.
Ricky Rubio can’t shoot. Patrick Beverley can’t pass. Derrick Rose can’t turn back time.
After that it’s a who’s who of journeyman NBA point guards, all who offer more than what the Suns currently have but none who offer enough to really matter.
A Best Buds Backcourt (so dumb it might work as a nickname) of Booker and Russell would be expensive but the NBA is increasingly a perimeter oriented league. Teams that won the 3 point battle in the playoffs went 62-20 this year, according to Marc Stein. Taking it a step further, of the top 10 teams in the regular season who made the most 3's, 8 of them made the playoffs.
The defensive issues that have plagued the Suns would continue but the addition of a player like DeAndre Hunter in the draft could give the Suns a fighting chance and allow the Suns to surround Deandre Ayton with 4 shooters.
The Suns could enter 2019 with a starting five of Russell/Booker/Bridges/Hunter/Ayton. Thats three All Star caliber talents 23 or younger and two very promising 3 and D wings all under contract together for the next 3-4 years.
Along with the hiring of Monty Williams, the Suns would have a core and a leadership structure in place that could offer what this franchise needs most: talent and stability. Until Bobby Sarvs rears his head again, that is.
The Suns wouldn’t have much future cap flexibility but who could this team realistically expect to sign who is better than D”Angelo Russell over the next three years?
So if D’Angelo Russell is interested in the Suns, the Suns have to sign him.
Clear the cap space, back up the Brinks truck and keep Bobby Sarvs the hell away from him until the ink is dry.
It could and should be that simple. The Suns are supposed to be different this year with James Jones running the show.
How they handle this situation will tell us everything we need to know about whether the change is real or its business as usual for the Suns.