Phoenix Suns should let Elfrid Payton walk this summer

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 5: Elfrid Payton
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 5: Elfrid Payton /

The Phoenix Suns shouldn’t even try to retain the services of Elfrid Payton this offseason, when it doesn’t make sense for the club to continue the union.

Elfrid Payton’s time with the Phoenix Suns has been an up  and down roller coaster up to this point. While Payton has the potential to be a positive impactful player, it appears the Phoenix Suns aren’t the franchise that he should make that impact with. Regardless if the Suns sign restricted free agent Payton to a qualifying offer or not, the franchise needs to let him join another team before next season starts.

In the past, I wrote about how both the Suns and Payton were at fault for the two sides not making a good union. One of the primary focuses of the article was on how former interim head coach Jay Triano’s offense made Payton have to produce so much more of his own points versus having teammates set him up. This lead to Payton’s shooting percentages to go down in the majority of categories since his move to Phoenix. While new head coach Igor KoKoskov should have a better flowing offense than Triano’s, Payton’s shooting numbers are never going to be great.

Kokoskov also has a relationship with European playmaking draft prospect Luka Doncic. If the Suns end up drafting Doncic then that would almost for certain delegate Payton to the bench, which is something Payton might not like. Even if the Suns don’t pick Doncic, there’s a chance they go after a better point guard than Payton in free agency or the trade market. Regardless if Payton accepts coming off the bench, he’d have to compete with Brandon Knight as the team’s primary backup.

Per Game Table
1Brandon Knight2012201738232031.3.415.357.445.476.8123.
2Elfrid Payton2015201830025329.5.457.298.479.475.6194.

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2018.

More from Suns Free Agency

Payton’s passing ability and rebounding are something that Kokoskov could use in a backup. However, Knight could carry the second unit on his back offensively, which isn’t something Payton has proven to be able to do consistently. While Knight has his faults, he also has a pretty big contract that can’t be moved based on the fact that he took this past regular season to recover from an ACL tear. Knight has no trade value at the moment and waiving or stretching his contract would be salary cap suicide. Due to the fact that Knight’s probably not going to be leaving the roster any time soon, it would be a very poor decision by general manager Ryan McDonough to pay big money for two backup guards. Even if McDonough doesn’t find a better starting point guard elsewhere this summer, paying any large sum of money for two guards at their level of talent would be a mistake.

Next: The Suns’ hiring of Igor Kokoskov was the right move

Letting Elfrid Payton go to another team would be best for both the Phoenix Suns and Payton. Payton can go to a team where he wouldn’t have to worry about what type of role he would have and the Suns don’t have to worry about any type of point guard controversy.