Gambo: the Phoenix Suns are not interested in D’Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell Phoenix Suns (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell Phoenix Suns (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

John Gambadoro tweeted on June 18 that the Phoenix Suns will not be interested in potential unrestricted free agent point guard ‘Angelo Russell. Whhhyyyyyy?

The Phoenix Suns need a point guard. D’Angelo Russell is a really good one. He is also Devin Booker‘s best friend.

But on June 18, only about two weeks from the beginning of NBA free agency, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 tweeted a reiteration that Russell is not an option for the Phoenix Suns.

The question that most fans of the Phoenix Suns ask though is: why not?

Not only do the Suns need a point guard more than any other position of weakness (do not argue that they need a power forward more – that position can be rectified by having a very good point guard as well), but Russell is a very good one.

He’s actually really  good.

Let’s put something into perspective.

Granted, these can be argued as fairly arbitrary statistics and can be ignored as a one off in a young player’s career, but two players in the NBA last season averaged over 20 points and 7 assists per game while shooting 36.0% from beyond the arc of higher.

D’Angelo Russell and James Harden.

Harden also only shot 0.8% higher from the field, averaged 0.5 more assists per game, and while I did not add this stat originally, he averaged 2.0 steals to Russell’s 1.2.

Oh – and Harden averaged 36.8 minutes per game versus Russell’s 30.2.

To further draw perspective, the last Phoenix Suns point guard to average anything near those stats was Steve Nash.

Russell is no Nash, but statistically speaking, he’s at least near that realm of output.

That said, a lot of fans believe that the reason the Suns aren’t interested in signing him is because they don’t want to put all that money into the back court. Book is already on the max and Russell will likely be at or near a max as well.

I believe that Gambo has actually even made that point in the past as well.

To me, this makes no logical sense.

My first instinct is to note all the money that is tied up in the Golden State Warriors’ backcourt and I’d love to know why it works for them but it wouldn’t for the Suns.

Of course I am not comparing Russell and Devin Booker to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but to argue that the Suns should spend less at point guard simply so they can balance money elsewhere in the lineup to me simply means that Phoenix would be passing on having an above average player at one position in favor of a mediocre player at two.

If the Suns really wanted to have a good power forward, they should have drafted  better over the past few years and draft very well this year.

Let’s say too that Julius Randle does pick the Suns this offseason and at a decent rate. At the moment, who is going to get him the ball? De’Anthony Melton?

I have been fond of Ricky Rubio as a target in free agency this offseason, and a duo of Rubio and Randle would be a significant improvement on the roster. Rubio is a very good distributor and Julius would stretch the floor for Deandre Ayton.

But it takes just one  of those two to say no to Phoenix (or say yes to another team offering more money) and voila: the Suns are once again in a position where they have a good  player at one position and have to throw desperate money at someone else to fill in the gap at another.

The addition of D’Angelo Russell (presuming that he would come to the Suns – which I cannot imagine that if Booker wants him here why Russell would not want to join), is an instant, major  upgrade at one position, which just so happens to be the most important position to control the offense for the other four players.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

With Russell, Booker is no longer double-teamed quite so often (not that it ever seemed to bother him); Ayton gets the ball in the post where/when he needs it; the small forwards are more accurately passed the ball when Russell drives and dishes giving them more open and in rhythm shots than they have ever received in the recent past.

And if Russell can continue to shoot around the 37.0% from 3 that he shot last season on 635 attempts, the Suns will be one major step away from having the worst 3-point shooting percentage in the league that they shot last season.

Even if his signing means that the Suns have to deal with a lesser power forward heading into next season, Russell’s age (23) buys Phoenix time to finding a more prominent power forward.

Whether it be through an eventual trade or free agency signing (you never really know who is going to be available and when), or a couple of drafts to target one, if D’Angelo signed in Phoenix, the Suns wouldn’t be risking years of anyone’s primes yet, they core would still have the opportunity to grow, and be much better as a team during the process.

One trade for the Phoenix Suns with every team on Draft Day. dark. Next

If John Gambadoro is right (and I have no reason to believe that he isn’t), than unless James Jones has a trick up his sleeve that we are all going to be blown away from, by avoiding D’Angelo Russell, the Phoenix Suns are making a giant mistake.