Phoenix Suns: Richaun Holmes Should be a Free Agency Target

Phoenix Suns, Richaun Holmes (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Richaun Holmes (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

After a disappointing end to an otherwise successful season, the Phoenix Suns have a few questions to answer in their upcoming free agency period. One issue even amidst Phoenix’s deep roster is its lack of size. Both playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets came down to who had the better center, and Deandre Ayton stepped up.

In Game 1 of the NBA Finals right before the second quarter, backup center Dario Saric came down awkwardly, and left for the locker room. Diagnosed with a torn ACL, Saric’s series came to an early end, and he may not return next year at all. Matching up with the talented bigs of the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix got knocked around down low. Ayton was not good enough on defense,

and head coach Monty Williams had no answers off the bench.

In order to address this issue, the Suns should give free agent center and occasional power forward Richaun Holmes another chance in Phoenix.

Holmes is a 27-year old, who played 16 minutes per game with the Suns during their 2018-19 campaign before signing with the Sacramento Kings in free agency. Coming off of his most productive season yet, Holmes averaged 14.2 points while shooting 63.7 percent from the field.

Typically working as a traditional center, Holmes wreaks havoc in the painted area. His love to put up shots from within three feet of the rim, with 40.0 percent of his made field goals coming from that area. Taking these high-percentage shots helped boost his field goal percentage this season, and supply his team with easy buckets.

On the defensive end, he brings size and physicality to a Suns team clearly lacking those qualities. Standing at 6’10 with a 235-pound frame, Holmes would be the third tallest—and largest player currently on Phoenix’s roster.

Averaging 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, if he were a Sun last year, those numbers would also shoot him up to second in rebounds and first in blocks on the team. Additionally, his 2.4 offensive rebounds per game fall only behind Ayton’s 3.0 per contest for the Suns. Acquiring Holmes could finally allow the Suns to feel confident in their presence down low during sequences where Ayton needs to sit.

For the 2020-21 season, Holmes’ played under a $5 million-dollar contract. That number should not inflate much when his team strikes up a new one, still making him a budget-friendly acquisition.

Getting better each season, Holmes is about to enter his prime as a basketball player, and Phoenix needs to recognize that. He carries serious upside first at the offensive end with his scoring efficiently, but also as a defender with is raw athleticism.

Whether Phoenix wants to play him off the bench, or as the starting power forward remains up to head coach Monty Williams. It would come at the cost of Jae Crowder, who plays physically, but struggles to hit consistently from outside and carries an undersized frame for a forward.

Holmes’s stance as an indefinite starter might turn a “win now” team like the Suns away from him though. But still, him playing with the likes of Chris Paul and Devin Booker under Williams’ leadership still feels enticing.

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Holmes appears adaptable to the team’s young core already, and would only take minutes away from Crowder—who never really cemented himself as a starter to begin with. Bringing in rejections and size, Holmes is the perfect free agency signing to complete an already deep roster. Taking a chance on a low-contract player with some high upside is a low-risk, high reward certainly worth pursuing.