As the Phoenix Suns operate like a new team on the court, the front office needs to operate differently off of the court to build on their success so far.
Even with recent struggles, through about a month of the NBA season, the Phoenix Suns are still the surprise of the NBA.
With Deandre Ayton still in the midst of his 25-game suspension, the team is playing very well together and even above their talent level.
With a strong system and role players excelling the team looks poised for a playoff push this season.
Looking at the Suns’ roster this year, it is hard not to see the similarities they share with two Pacific Division opponents, the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers.
Like last year’s Kings, the Suns are outperforming expectations and are led by a young roster featuring several players with All-Star potential.
Both teams also feature veterans that are playing perfectly in their respective roles, creating a culture of winning, and having – or were having, in the case of Aron Baynes – career resurgences.
The Clippers are another team, like the Kings, that outperformed expectations last season, with the main difference being that they were led by a team full of veterans.
However when it came to making moves throughout the year, they had a different mindset than Sacramento: and it paid off this past offseason.
Each team made multiple moves at the deadline last year with the general consensus at the time that the Kings were making a run for the playoffs while the Clippers were punting on the season and piling up draft picks.
For Phoenix, it is going to be nearly impossible to replicate the big trade the Clippers made by giving away Tobias Harris. Unless you believe Aron Baynes will continue to improve, the Suns do not have any players on Harris’ level that are on expiring contracts to give up.
The Kings’ big splash last season was to essentially move Harrison Barnes into their cap space that was being occupied by Zach Randolph. Not only do the Phoenix Suns have the cap space to make a move like that, they would have to pay for that move down the line much like the Kings are with Barnes’ new 4-year $85 million contract.
So, the moves from each team that the Phoenix Suns need to attempt to emulate, are the ones made around the edges.
A move like this with minimal upside that messes with one of the chemistry and cohesion of an under-talented team should be avoided if possible.
Meanwhile, the Clippers sat back at the deadline letting more desperate teams come to them to make moves. That is how they were able to turn Mike Muscala, who was out of their rotation, into a player like Ivaca Zubac.
The Phoenix Suns are in a great position coming up, where, because they are overachieving, they should not feel pressured to make any moves.
It might even be smarter to trade away pieces to continue to build for the future because this season will not be a success or failure based on if the Suns veteran role players are around for next season.
The Suns season needs to continue to send a message to the rest of the NBA that their young core can play a large part in winning basketball.
If that is clear by the trade deadline, then General Manager James Jones should not feel pressured into making a move, nor should he regret making moves to help his young core win going forward.