The Phoenix Suns have entered into another important phase of their offseason, as they get set to host a number of free agent workouts this week. Unfortunately for the organization, these aren’t the type of players who are going to demand attention from around the league, and who are mostly on their last chances to make it in the NBA.
According to Chris Haynes of The Athletic, Jabari Parker, Chasson Randle, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Stanley Johnson have been invited by the Suns to workout for them. Hardly the most inspiring list of players, but four individuals who will be doing their best to earn a spot at the end of the team’s bench for the start of the regular season.
These players will come cheap, which will be music to the ears of the front office after the serious sums of money spent on the top of their roster. But can any of these players actually make the team proper?
Right out the gate it is hard to see Parker sticking, which is a shame considering he is a former second overall pick who in theory would be exactly what the Suns need. Injury robbed him of any sort of longevity in the league, but he is still somehow only 28-years-old and is the kind of big-bodied forward who would work really well in the Suns’ rotation.
Health is the best attribute a player can possess, and Parker has had very little of that. He last played for the Boston Celtics in 2021-22, and really since 2019 he has barely played at all. If the Suns were to somehow take on Parker, they would either be extremely confident he could play even 40 regular season games, or will have reached a new level of desperation.
Moving on to Weatherspoon, and it doesn’t get a whole lot better. The guard spent three years in the league, with both the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, and most recently plied his trade in China with the Tianjin Pioneers. The absolute best case scenario, and we mean best, is that some time out of the league has Weatherspoon reinvigorated to show he belongs.
With Chris Paul having now left town, the Suns are short in the guard department. But are they that bad that they would consider giving Weatherspoon a go? If the organization were to bring him on, they would have to be confident he was going to play with a level of energy an hustle that could get him 15 minutes off the bench in the regular season.
A final note on Weatherspoon, is that the Washington Wizards plan on having him workout for them too. We’re getting warmer with Randle, but this is still a big stretch. Another guard, the 30-year-old would be a steady presence who likely never thought he was going to play in the league again. Now with Leones de Ponce in Puerto Rico, Randle has been out of the league for two years.
He has played for five teams in the past, the last of which was the Orlando Magic, and during his time there he had a couple of half decent glimpses in his 41 games played in 2020-21 (of which five were starts). Randle can count himself a little unlucky he wasn’t given longer there, but the Magic were in the midst of a rebuild that is now bearing fruit, and there was no place for him.
Like Weatherspoon before him, things would want to be really bad or the Suns would want to not have any confidence in being able to fill out their roster properly if either of these guys were added. There has to be enough guards in the league, veteran or otherwise, who would play for the minimum so as to have a chance to run with Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant.
Which brings us to the most intriguing selection of the lot, in Johnson. If there is one player to add from these workouts, it is surely him. Johnson resurrected his career with the Los Angeles Lakers when he was brought in on a string of 10-day deals, before earning a two-year contract.
When the chips were down and the Russell Westbrook experience was reaching its disastrous climax, the hustle and grit of Johnson was such a boost to that team. Johnson then found himself on the San Antonio Spurs last season, starting 30 games before being released as they sought to go in a different direction before ultimately landing Victor Wembanyama.
So unlike the other three players being brought in by the Suns, and although Johnson finished out last season in the G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, he has been around the league as recently as last season, and played 15.6 minutes per game with the Spurs. Roughly what the Suns would need from him, which makes this a no-brainer if the team does pick one of these players.
Johnson fills a necessary role as a guard off the bench, can guard multiple positions and will try hard every night to shadow bigger players, and he’s still only 26-years-old. Like Parker, he too was a lottery pick, he just flamed out badly with the Detroit Pistons. There exists now in Johnson a level of talent and desire that we have seen work in the league, and which the Suns should want.
He was able to make it work playing next to LeBron James, and doing all of the dirty work around Booker, Durant and Beal would be no problem for him. If anything, it is his route to getting his next contract in the league beyond next season. This is the perfect marriage of player and team, and at what will be a small amount of money, has to be the pick of the players being worked out here.