The Phoenix Suns losing Troy Daniels is a mistake

Phoenix Suns Troy Daniels (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Troy Daniels (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Following one of the worst 3-point shooting seasons in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns need as many good shooters as possible. Yet they let one already on their roster slip away.

The Phoenix Suns shot a league-worst 32.9% from beyond the arc in 2018-19, and yet now with the loss of Troy Daniels to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, preceded by the trade of T.J. Warren to the Indiana Pacers on draft night, the team’s top-two 3-point shooters from last season are gone.

How are they supposed to improve their team shooting again?

Admittedly, adding a legitimate distributor at point guard in Ricky Rubio is going to open up a lot more clean looks for shooters like Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre (presuming he re-signs), Josh Jackson (presuming he returns, although it’s not like he can hit them when open anyway), and incomers Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, and Cameron Johnson.

However, while one might argue that Saric and Johnson will replace  Warren on some level, why couldn’t the newcomers have been added  to at least a group that included one of the team’s top-two shooters in Troy Daniels who was already here?

My biggest problem with the Lakers signing Troy Daniels isn’t that he signed with my least favorite team in professional sports.

My biggest problem is that fact that Daniels was allowed to get away at all, and on the veteran’s minimum of just $2.1 million.

Sure, the 27-year-old could have seen it as an opportunity to possibly go win a title and at least play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but was he not valuable enough to the Suns franchise to have been retained at a rate high enough that he wouldn’t turn it down?

I’m not saying they should have offered him $10 million a year or anything, but could $3 million have done it? How about the Mid-Level Exception of just over $4 million?

He’s basically been working year-to-year anyway and he only signed a one-year deal with L.A.

If the Suns had signed him for another year or two, he could have had a shot to sign with a contender after, at the vet’s minimum, at least stuffing his pockets a little bit beforehand.

Now, some fans aren’t too shook up by the loss.

Last year was a kind of down year for him (he shot 38.1% – the second lowest shooting percentage of his career, yet still only 0.2% lower than Devin Booker’s career-high).

Some have argued too that he only played in 51 games on a 19-win team, arguing that he was potentially not helping out that much.

This is a false point.

As much as I had faith in Igor Kokoskov as a head coach had he had a point guard, there was no denying that he had some strange  rotations and he often left a healthy Daniels on the bench for games on end for apparently no reason. There were times where people speculated that he was somehow in the dog house – yet nothing definitive ever came of that rumor.

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The season before under Jay Triano (when the Suns won 21 games – woo!), Daniels played in a career-high 79 games, started a career-high 15, averaged a career-high 20.5 minutes per game, and shot 40.0% from 3 (nowhere near his career-high), nailing 183-458 from beyond the arc (both career-highs), the majority of which was off the bench (137-345, to be exact).

Isn’t it at all feasible that under the new offense of Monty Williams, Daniels could have become the Quentin Richardson, J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver of this improved roster, one of the centerpieces of a long-bomber bench that the team hasn’t had in a decade?

It’s interesting that the Lakers’ plan has been to surround LeBron James with shooters, so they added a really good one.

Yet the Suns decided not to retain the one guy who for the prior two seasons shot 257-652 for 39.4%.

Many fans too have argued that “he has been replaced by Saric, Johnson, and Baynes.”

No. He hasn’t.

T.J. Warren and Richaun Holmes have been replaced by them (although technically Saric filled a void and I guess is arguably replacing Dragan Bender).

And while I am as enamored as anyone as Cam’s gaudy 3-point shooting last season at North Carolina (96-210 for 45.7%), I do not expect the rookie to step in and blow me away right away.

The comparisons to Klay Thompson might be exciting,  however it is ridiculously rare that a player steps in and shoots over 40.0% in his rookie season (he and Stephen Curry are the only two that I am aware of that were able to do that, do so at such a high rate, and thus far it on throughout their entire careers)

As of now, Daniels has not been replaced at all. He too was actually Devin Booker’s best (only) backup shooting guard from last season, leaving a void at the position.

From once the team had depth, they now find themselves lacking.

I’m not saying that Troy Daniels was the end-all be-all, that his loss means the Suns will suck worse than with him, or that he hypothetically could not somehow be replaced.

What I am saying is that he was a player that was already here.  He likely could have been retained at a very reasonable rate and should have been made a top priority to re-sign this offseason.

Next. Five ways Ricky Rubio helps the Phoenix Suns immediately. dark

Last year the Phoenix Suns were the worst 3-point shooting team in the league. Yes Saric, Johnson and Baynes are good  3-point shooters, but not only is Ricky Rubio not  (31.1% from 3 last year a 32.2% for his career), but Troy Daniels is better at that skill than all of them.

Re-signing Troy Daniels would have been a simple do, and James Jones and the Phoenix Suns front office let him slip through.