How Caris LeVert Can Revert the Suns Fortunes in 2021

Caris LeVert, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Caris LeVert, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns are entering the most crucial off-season in recent memory as they simultaneously try to maintain and add to the magic that was created by the historic “Bubble Suns” in the NBA restart in Orlando. Could the answer be the very person who prevented their inclusion in the playoffs in 2020?

Despite having 37 points and almost leading the Brooklyn Nets to a huge upset against Dominate Dame Lillard and the Blazers in their season finale on August 13, Caris LeVert may currently be the most hated man in Phoenix.

As every Suns fan knows, LeVert held the fate of the Suns and Blazers (the two best teams in the NBA bubble) in his hands in the final seconds as he missed the last-second shot (WHY DIDN’T HE GO TO THE HOOP?!?!) and simultaneously ended the Suns season and extended the Blazers season.

Instead of forever being a despised sports figure in this town (you know, like Robert Horry or Mario Elie or John Paxson) why not give him the opportunity to help lead the Suns to the postseason in 2020-21?

Hear me out.

With the emergence of Cam Johnson as a perfect fit for the Suns at the power forward position in their torrid run in the NBA bubble and the highly productive and inspired play of Dario Saric, the Suns previously assumed biggest question mark may have already been answered in house.

What appears to be their biggest question mark now? (if you can find one after they looked like one of the best teams in the NBA over a two and a half week period)

Caris LeVert can come into Phoenix with the ability to shore up certain weaknesses and also buttress their strengths on the offensive end.

One big question is where exactly Kelly Oubre fits in moving forward with the clear necessity to play Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson heavy minutes as the more ideal fits around future centerpieces Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, and another would be whether their third guard role has been truly filled by a combination of Cam Payne and Javon Carter.

Acquiring Caris LeVert can answer both questions in one fell swoop and make the Suns even more dangerous.

Why would LeVert be available after the way he has played for Brooklyn the last few weeks you ask?

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Nets will look entirely different in the 2020-21 season as their two prized possessions of the 2019 off-season finally make their debut as the NBA’s next elite duo.

With $94 million in committed salary for Durant, Irving, Dinwiddie, and DeAndre Jordan next season and a clearly stated No.1 priority to re-sign Joe Harris this fall (who will command a large salary in a pedestrian free agency class) the Nets will need to shed salary and find guys who are most effective with limited touches and catch-and-shoot ability.

LeVert is not that guy.

LeVert was ranked outside of the top-300 in catch-and-shoot percentage and from the field and from three-point range this season at 31.6%

In all, he shot 42.5% from the field this season and 36.4% from three-point range, a five percent increase from three and 11 percent increase from the field in off-the-dribble situations.

With an increased role and playmaking opportunities, LeVert averaged 25 points and 6.7 assists per game in six games in the bubble.

He is not suited for the role he would invariably play in Brooklyn next season.

Related Story. Suns Draft Profiles: Is Onyeka Okongwu a fit for Phoenix?. light

What would entice the Nets to part ways with a highly talented young asset like LeVert besides his poor fit moving forward? The ability to dump Taurean Prince‘s $12.2 million salary next season in a package with LeVert.

Prince essentially played the Durant role in the Nets offense this season and did so very inefficiently this season before not playing in the Orlando bubble.

He has virtually no value to the Nets moving forward.

If the Suns renounce their rights to Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky, and Elie Okobo this off-season they will have enough space to work in Prince’s salary, and Oubre’s $14.4 million cap figure is only $2 million less than LeVert’s for the 2020-21 season.

Here is the hypothetical trade:

Suns Receive: Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince

Nets Receive: Kelly Oubre, Jalen Lecque and Suns 2020 1st round pick

LeVert would be the perfect third guard for the Suns that could be the primary playmaker and scorer for either off the bench and/or for any minutes when Devin Booker is on the bench while also being able to play and defend the 1 through 3  alongside Booker and Rubio for stretches.

He would be insurance for Rubio and his back issues and would make the Suns so much more dangerous with an additional bucket-getter and offense initiator at all times.

Here is a hypothetical breakdown of minutes and rotation for the Suns next season:


Rubio (26 minutes)

Booker (34 minutes)

Bridges (32 minutes)

Johnson (26 minutes)

Ayton (32 minutes)

Bench: LeVert (29 minutes), Saric (22 minutes) Payne (20 minutes) Carter (19 minutes) Prince, Diallo

Prince and Diallo can steal minutes on nights when any of the top nine in the rotation are out or struggling as can Payne or Carter on nights when they really have it going.

LeVert becomes the go-to source of offense for the 14 minutes a game with no Booker in lineups while Payne and/or Carter can focus on being elite defenders and catch-and-shoot guys.

He would likely be the favorite for NBA Sixth Man of the Year and could elevate the Suns with his presence over an 82-game season to being a 50-win team.

Also, how terrifying of a crunch-time lineup would Booker-LeVert-Bridges-Johnson-Ayton be?

Wouldn’t it be poetic and karmic justice for the very guy who prevented the Suns from being a playoff team this season to be the player who is the final puzzle piece to elevate the Suns into western conference contention in 2021?

Next. Phoenix Suns Draft: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 1.0. dark