The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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There Will Be Changes

It's been less than two years since the Bubble Suns burst onto the scene and the ride ended when the Suns had their bubble burst on May 15, 2022.

Now the only question heading into the offseason is not whether there will be changes but how big will the changes be.

Let’s play our game of Stay or Go for the Suns 2022 offseason.

Stay: Devin Booker

  • When the Suns acquired Chris Paul less than 18 months ago, he was the perfect mentor for Devin Booker; we just didn’t think he’d teach him how to do EVERYTHING like Chris Paul. Booker is young enough to overcome this stain of a performance but only if he handles it the right way. Booker can’t run from his shrinking. He can’t deflect accountability. He has to stew in the juices of a truly embarrassing performance and let it fuel him for the next few years. There’s a twist to this redemption story though: Booker can’t be the driving force behind another championship run. At his best, Booker is a 1B. The Suns still need a 1A and that is not going to be easy to find without.

Go: Deandre Ayton

  • Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. Beyond the silliness of paying a role player over $30 million dollars a year is the obvious exasperation Monty Williams has publicly shown since Game 7 ended. Ayton is a talented player but the league is increasingly a wing league. He is not the reason the Suns lost to the Mavericks but he is one of the reasons they didn’t win. Beyond the Suns organizational frustration towards Ayton, he also represents really the only tangible way to get better and change the roster. I’d expect Ayton to be dealt with a few players coming back to Phoenix that help the Suns reshape their roster.

Stay: Monty Williams

  • I will not defend Monty Williams, or anyone, from the sins of Game 6 and 7. Williams rotations decisions made very little sense, his adjustments were nonexistent and as he has pointed out several times, he was unable to coax a more urgent performance out of his top seeded team. I will, however, defend Williams as a head coach in general. He’s a culture builder, an inspirational leader and a decent x’s and o’s head coach. The Suns will continue to be in a good place with Monty Williams leading the way.

Go: Chris Paul

  • Chris Paul’s greatest value to the Suns was redefining the franchise from a loser to a winner. In order to take the next step to define the Suns as a champion, it would likely require moving on from Paul just a year after signing him to a mega extension. Paul would have to be a partner in the move and other than a Lakers reunion with Lebron, he probably has no interest in being traded. 

Stay: Chris Paul

  • Keeping Chris Paul is almost certainly the path the Suns will take and thats ok. Paul’s limitations are real at this stage of his career and the Suns must prioritize finding a meatier back up role for a more qualified back up point guard to prevent another potential offseason at the mercy of Chris Paul's body and resume.

Go: Jae Crowder

  • The starting position that leaves the most to be desired is the one occupied by Jae Crowder. He’s not fast or athletic enough to be a defensive stopper and he’s not a consistent enough shooter to be an offensive difference maker. The Suns have outgrown the role Jae Crowder has played the last two seasons. Packaging Crowder with Ayton is the most likely offseason outcome in order for the Suns to maximize their return.

Stay: JaVale McGee, Bismack Biyombo and Dario Saric

  • The Suns new front court will look a lot more like most other NBA teams: a collection of modestly priced big man specialists who will likely spend most late game situations on the bench in favor of a smaller, more dynamic lineup.

Go: Cam Payne

  • I think everyone is happy for Cam Payne that he got his life changing money last year. I think everyone will also be happy for Cam Payne to find somewhere else to play next season. It was a meteoric rise for the former first rounder and and precipitous fall for the former spark plug off the bench. Payne’s collapse was a preview for the teams and while the Suns feel salvageable, Cam Payne does not.

It Depends: Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges

  • Both players should be long term building blocks for the team with their combination of size, shooting and defense. Johnson is eligible for a rookie contract extension and Bridges just got his. The only reason they are in this category is if the Suns found themselves with a chance to pull off a true blockbuster for a championship caliber leading man, one or both could be on the table. The odds are slim but the NBA offseason is wild - let the games begin.

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