The Phoenix Suns’ strangest offseason signing

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns have made some prudent offseason moves, including the re-signing of Deandre Ayton and contract extensions for Devin Booker and head coach Monty Williams.

They also made some smaller, less notable deals in free agency, some of which will boost a roster looking to atone for a disappointing playoff exit heading into next season.

But one free agent addition makes little sense for the Suns, so much so that it simply has to be a prelude to another move further down the track.

While Josh Okogie may be a valuable NBA player, his signing at the Phoenix Suns is a quizzical inclusion given a like-type already on the roster.

Phoenix Suns, Josh Okogie
Phoenix Suns, Josh Okogie (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Okogie signed with the Suns early in free agency on a one-year minimum contract. He had a career-worst year in his last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging career-lows in minutes per game and almost every major statistical category.

As a result, the Timberwolves failed to give the 23-year-old a qualifying offer despite some exciting signs earlier in his career. Okogie is still young and has upside, plus his defensive prowess is a clear value against the league’s elite perimeter threats.

The major issue is that, in Torrey Craig, the Suns already had a defensive specialist with offensive limitations. Sure, the 31-year-old is slightly taller, but both he and Okogie are similarly athletic types who present similar attributes as backup wings.

Phoenix Suns, Torrey Craig
Phoenix Suns, Torrey Craig. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Their offensive limitations are also damning to an extent, making both players unplayable in closing lineups. Craig shot 32.3% from three-point range last season, while Okogie has never shot over 30% in any of his four NBA seasons.

In the rigours of an 82-game season, teams need to expect to go 12-13 players deep on a regular basis. In Craig and Okogie, the Suns have two bench players who literally cannot be on the floor together should the Suns wish to be successful.

It begs the question – is the Okogie signing an indication of Craig and his $5.1 million contract being moved in the near future? That would certainly provide the most applicable reason as to why the Suns targeted Okogie so early in free agency.

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Having both Craig and Okogie isn’t a major issue, it won’t be the difference between winning a championship or not. But in an ultra competitive league where every roster spot should be valued, perhaps the Suns need to put greater emphasis on a more balanced bench makeup.