Phoenix Suns General Manager James Jones told Burns and Gambo on Tuesday December 10, that he is not looking externally to improve the roster – yet.
Now over 1/4 of the way through the 2019-20 regular season, the Phoenix Suns are still in the playoff hunt (the latest they have been since the 2014-15 season), and with this early success comes a desire by fans to see the current state of positivity both extended and improved upon.
With the first wave of free agents signed this summer coming available on December 15, rumors are already abound with the prospect of improving the roster early in the season to not only improve the team’s chances of grabbing a playoff spot for the first time in a decade, but also giving the roster as much time as possible to solidify themselves as a competent and cohesive unit.
However, on his weekly interview on Arizona Sports 98.7’s Burns and Gambo show, Suns General Manager James Jones said that he is not looking externally to improving the roster at the moment and that he is wanting to improve the roster internally first before deciding how else it needs to be worked on.
Specifically noting that he still does not know how the current roster truly is in full since he has not yet really seen Deandre Ayton work with them very long this season, he wants to know how the roster meshes and how the rotations play out when the second-year center makes his return next week before he considers tinkering with the roster.
Overall, this is not a bad idea in the least.
For starters, the season is still young. While there are players that are already on the trade block, stars like Kevin Love are likely not going to be traded right away because teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to want to cultivate as many offers over time as possible, and that may mean waiting out franchises like the Phoenix Suns who are not in a position of need to make a trade as of yet but could be by the trade deadline.
It would suit the Cavaliers well to wait until at least January if not into early February to see how desperate (or at least interested) James Jones might be to add a piece like Love depending upon how the roster is playing with Ayton who will then have been active for some time, and whether or not they still have a chance at the playoffs still, or are even making a run at say the four or five seed.
Coaches and management say all the time that when they get a good player back from an injury or suspension that is extended like Ayton’s is, that it is like making a mid-season trade without having to give up any assets to acquire him.
In theory, this is actually exactly what is going to happen with the Suns when he makes his return and it could end up playing very well for the team right off the bat.
What the Phoenix Suns need most at the moment is another scorer and rebounder, which is precisely what Ayton will provide as proof of his double-double average last season and his 18 points, 11 rebounds (and 4 blocks) game opening night in the blowout victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Would the team be better if they added both Ayton and a player like Love?
Absolutely. But if they do not have to make the trade at the moment (which would likely include losing at least one of their younger players in Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, if not at least one first round pick as well), then it obviously bodes better for James Jones to sit on the roster as is and see if the addition of Ayton doesn’t make this team that much better right away.
Obviously power forward is still a weakness for the Suns, and Ayton has his own weaknesses (unless he has somehow miraculously improved upon his lack of free throw shooting and his non-3-point shooting), but even the addition of an 18 points and 10 rebound player at center taking some of the scoring pressure off of Dario Saric (although I still believe that he needs to become a more consistent scorer for this team to win consistently ) and moving Aron Baynes to the bench for added depth, is going to be a huge plus.
I do think eventually that James Jones will make a trade this season to improve the Phoenix Suns’ roster, and that there is a very good chance that that trade will be for a star player, ala Kevin Love.
However, he is correct in wondering exactly what he’s got for his roster with the return of Deandre Ayton, and has no real need to make a trade now until he see’s just how the young center plays with the roster as is, and if his return doesn’t carry the Suns in the exact direction that we all want the franchise to go.