As you may have heard, over this past weekend the Suns added some more talent to their already prolific backcourt after a sign and trade with the Kings sent Isaiah Thomas To Phoenix. Many might be questioning the move following Goran Dragic winning the 2014 Most Improved Player Award and being selected to the 2014 All-NBA Third Team and with Eric Bledsoe still on the market; but this trade all but guarantees that Phoenix will have a starting caliber guard on the court all game long. In my eyes, this move benefits the Suns a lot more than potentially trading away either Dragic or Bledsoe. There have been rumors of Phoenix potentially trading Dragic to the Pacers for big man Roy Hibbert, but this move sounds, what’s the term for it… ill-advised. Trading away a guard with tremendous upside for a center who went scoreless four times in the postseason the Suns are so desperately trying to get back to does not bode well for the Suns. For Indiana, if this move ever went through, it would be a fantastic move – not so much in Phoenix.
The Suns received Thomas for Alex Oriakhi, the 57th pick in the 2013 draft, in a sign and trade and locked him up with a fairly cheap (a 4 year deal worth around $27 million) following a breakout year. Thomas averaged 20.3 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game last season with Sacramento, all of those numbers being career highs for him. Despite his great season, the Kings still failed to make any noise in the Western Conference last year, so now Thomas will have the chance to fight for the postseason with the young Suns. Phoenix’s backcourt certainly looks to all be moving in the right direction with Dragic, Bledsoe, and Thomas all coming off of terrific seasons. Although the Suns have lost Channing Frye to Orlando, they were able to retain forward P.J. Tucker and by adding Thomas and keeping Tucker, this offseason should be looked at as an improvement period for the team. Not to mention, after the younger players (Goodwin, Warren, Len, Brown, and Ennis) get more experience playing together this summer, imagine how much more success this team can see come October.
In other words, as much as people want to scratch their heads over Phoenix hoarding as many skilled guards as they can get their hands on, their depth will make them a formidable opponent for any team in the NBA.
We are now approaching an age, thanks to last season’s championship Spurs team, where individual dominance is being surpassed by team excellence; and this is making players like Jodie Meeks worthy of a 3 year/19 million dollar deal because teams see the importance of versatile role players. What this could potentially mean this offseason is one of two things: either role players will be vastly overpaid or star players will be underpaid. At any rate, the Phoenix Suns have two of the most coveted free agents this summer not named Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony – Eric Bledsoe and Channing Frye. Phoenix will do their best to retain both of these players as well as make some additions to their already talented roster while also doing their best not to overpay. Bledsoe has certainly garnered a lot of attention from around the league with his breakout year and career highs in almost every statistical category, and this may force Phoenix to dish out a max deal to the up and comer. Reports in from Cleveland are that the Cavs are set to offer former Jazz guard Gordon Hayward a max deal after the 24 year old continued his upward trajectory on a less than stellar Utah squad. If this is any indicator of what kind of money Phoenix will have to spend to keep Dragic’s partner in crime, then we can expect Bledsoe to get a fat deal this summer. While I think Hayward is a good player, without a doubt worthy of raising at least a few eyebrows as a free agent, for him to be given a max deal, I feel, is a slightly steep price. Especially in Cleveland where he won’t be a number one option or a number two option most nights, a max contract might be overpaying. Bledsoe came in clutch in many games down the stretch last season for Phoenix, as the Suns just narrowly missed the playoffs, and his value was clearly displayed. Not only was Bledsoe instrumental in the Suns’ near-50 win season, but Channing Frye was also very important to the success of the young Phoenix team. His comeback from sitting out the 2012-13 season with an enlarged heart was the feel good story of the desert this season, and he has plenty of teams calling him up for a visit. His jump shot and ability to play either the center or the power forward while operating in the pick and roll make him a valuable asset for any team this summer. He has become a fan favorite ever since joining the Suns in 2009, but his team prior to joining Phoenix – the Portland Trail Blazers – are also pursuing Frye in free agency. He may not command as much money as Bledsoe will, but there very well may be an upcoming bidding war between the Blazers and Suns this offseason. It should be interesting to see how Phoenix handles the possibilities of these two signing elsewhere and the options of adding other pieces to this young roster.