The Phoenix Suns used to be the franchise that made “that trade,” a moniker that forever kept the franchise relevant under Jerry Colangelo. They won’t now though.
The Phoenix Suns are in desperate need of a point guard; desperate need of using some of their assets for players who could fill positions of need; and in desperate need of giving the fanbase a shot of adrenaline that they have lacked for many years now.
Whether you like Lonzo Ball or not, the Phoenix Suns participating in a three-team deal with the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers netting the Suns the former second overall pick, would fill all three of those aforementioned needs.
Yet they’re not going to do it.
The Phoenix front office (which really is just Robert Sarver, although on some level James Jones has a voice), seems determined to not make a trade for a point guard, rather seek one out in the draft or free agency (most likely free agency as they can add an established player who isn’t in need of development).
In concept I do not blame them either. None of the young core, save for Devin Booker, really, has had the ability to run with a legitimate point guard who knows how to run an offense setting his teammates up. They have each (presumably – hopefully) underachieved because of this, as they have never had a true point who knows how to facilitate and get the ball into the player’s hands in the right spot at the right time.
If the franchise still has high hopes for each one of their currently core players, why would they trade any of them away for a point guard now, when waiting only four months can give them the opportunity to add a point to the roster without using any other assets besides cap space to acquire him?
I completely understand and sympathize with this notion.
James Jones has even stated that he will not be seeking a trade just for the sake of making one, but will only make a trade that they believe will be a guaranteed success, and not one that is a flip of the coin.
Again, more sympathetic I can not be.
But there is also this: Lonzo Ball was drafted second overall two summers ago for a reason. He wasn’t just the best or second best point guard in the draft, he was arguably the best or second best player. Obviously that is a distinction that is both arbitrary and now a year and a half in completely shot out of the water (according to Win Share, Ball is the 11th best player from his draft thus far – Josh Jackson is the very worst, of those players made it onto a roster).
He is, though, still only 21-years-old, developing his game, and every bit as possible of not only eventually becoming a serviceable starting point guard in the Association, but a really good one at that.
Ball is still only in his second season too, and truthfully, is probably in desperate need of a change of scenery.
The amount of pressure that was placed on him by his father out of the gates was impossible to match by most, save for LeBron James.
Then following an injury-shortened rookie season, who else but LeBron takes his talents to Los Angeles County, and that level of pressure was only amplified even greater – with his role significantly diminished.
Coming to a city like Phoenix would not only give him a fresh start at still a very young age, but also allow him to leave a media market much more vitriolic than Phoenix’s, in which star players (like Devin Booker), who pout after losses and refuse to discuss their short-comings to the media, are glossed over and never really made to defend, giving Ball general anonymity.
Plus, should he be open to the media after every game never shying away, even after losses when he plays poorly, he’ll still be treated well if only for giving a couple of journalists a quote, making their evening deadline that much easier.
For the Ball in particular and the Suns as a franchise, a deal just makes perfect sense.
Not only would Phoenix not have to give up either of their two stars (Booker or Deandre Ayton) or their soon-to-be very high first round pick, but his acquisition would also open up cap space for the team this summer to still try and amplify the roster with better role players as he is still under his rookie contract for the next two seasons.
And while I would hate to see the loss of any one or two of Jackson, T.J. Warren, Kelly Oubre, or Mikal Bridges (without any of them ever playing with a legit point guard) in a move for Ball, the accumulation of so many wings was done so with the intention of moving at least one or two of them as an upgrade somewhere else without emptying the cabinets in one position just to fill another.
In summation, by acquiring Lonzo Ball, the point guard position would presumably become solidified, while the small forward position remains a strength, and the amount of cap space for additional moves this summer (particularly depth or power forward if Phoenix does not land Zion Williamson) would remain intact if not grow some, depending on who might be moved in his acquisition.
Yet Sarver and Jones don’t want to make a trade for a point guard and would rather acquire one through draft or free agency; they like their stockpile of young players and seem to have an irrational fascination with making the roster as young as humanly possible; and they probably don’t want to make a move with the Lakers to help them in their own Division: while Jones denied the claim (of course he would) it had been reported that Sarver had shot down a trade of Trevor Ariza to the Lakers in December because he didn’t want to help L.A. out.
Again, generally I sympathize with that logic. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, and Sarver is still the owner who traded the Greatest Sun of all-time, Steve Nash, to L.A. at a time where the Lakers not only still had Kobe Bryant but had just added Dwight Howard as well.
The Phoenix Suns should find an equitable way to acquire Lonzo Ball in the impending Anthony Davis to Lakers deal.
The problem is, I just don’t think Sarver and the Suns will.