The NBA’s offseason hasn’t even properly begun yet, and already the Phoenix Suns are the center of attention. The news that Chris Paul may or may not be waived dominating the news cycle for a number of days and coming at a time when most felt the organization would look for other ways to improve their team.
Alongside the uncertainty surrounding the 38-year-old point guard’s future, has been the much more swift and secure additions of Frank Vogel and David Fizdale to the coaching staff. A pair of excellent gets, alongside retaining Kevin Young as the team’s lead assistant. There is still much work to be done around the fringes of this roster however, which needs to be handled correctly.
Landry Shamet is one such individual, the streaky shooter a player the Suns will need to make the right decision with this summer as they try to win a championship.
Just like Paul, there are several directions the Suns can go with Shamet. While this is not near as important as what happens with the Point God, determining whether to keep or possibly trade Shamet will be key in how the Suns reshape the roster around Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.
Shamet is due to make just over $10 million next season, which on face value seems fair for a player who is still 25-years-old and who has shot 37.1 percent from deep in his two seasons with the Suns. He had his postseason moment this year as well, pouring in 19 points and shooting 62.5 percent from deep in a Game 4 win over the presumptive champion Denver Nuggets.
If the Suns do decide to keep Shamet, then you can be pretty confident that come next season, he is going to have those games where he gets hot, all while receiving tons of open looks next to Durant and Booker. He has the ability to be a starter if required, but his true value comes off the bench, where he can quickly heating up.
Where it gets murkier for Shamet however, is how coach Vogel thinks he can use him in the defensive schemes he is concocting. Shamet rightly isn’t known for his defensive chops, and Vogel will know his value comes from shooting the ball really well. But to earn minutes on a roster going for a championship led by Vogel, there will need to be more defensive buy-in from Shamet.
To add to this, Shamet will be entering the second year of a four year, $43 million extension he signed with the Suns back in 2021. Interestingly, the third year is similar to Paul’s in that it is non-guaranteed and will only become guaranteed on June 29th of next year. The final year, if Shamet is still around, has a club option.
So the Suns know they have much of the power here, because they can simply waive Shamet next summer to take some money off the books, or else not pick up the final year of his deal after that. That would be losing a player for nothing though, and it does little for the salary cap situation they currently find themselves in. What about trading Shamet then, with his value in a good place?
The Suns can sell any potential buyer on the fact that they can just not guarantee Shamet after next season if they don’t like what they see from him. His contract is fine for plenty of others to swallow, and he is the kind of player a contender will always talk themselves into. The Suns already did just that.
In moving Shamet, the organization would free up even more cap space and could look at keeping a player like Terrence Ross to do much of what Shamet did anyway. Ross signed a minimum deal to join once he was waived by the Orlando Magic during the regular season, although he didn’t have as much of an impact as either he or the team would have liked.
If not Ross then, there are gunners out there who can be gotten for cheaper than Shamet, who may have a history of knocking down some big shots, and aren’t going to be much worse defensively either. This would allow the Suns to put more emphasis, and money, into their poor wing depth, ensuring that is where the better players are secured for next season.
Obviously the Suns are one of the better destinations for Shamet however, as he is the kind of player who in theory thrives next to Booker and Durant. He also hasn’t gotten much of a chance to show what he can do next to both players, because Durant spent a good bit of time injured once traded to the Suns by the Brooklyn Nets.
The Suns need to make the right call here, because Shamet is either going to be their sixth man and take up some of their precious cap room, or else make way for what the franchise hopes will be bigger and better things. Trading him is a gamble, because his value only goes so far and what they get back in return will have to be at least as good as Shamet has been. An achievable feat.
But with new owner Mat Ishbia having shown a willingness to be aggressive in getting Durant, the coaching staff he wants and even in maybe moving Paul in a quest to win a championship, he will no doubt do the same with the rest of the squad. The best could be yet to come from Shamet, but his time with the Suns so far has been underwhelming, and now may be the time to move him.