The Phoenix Suns have started this NBA season well, despite not having Devin Booker of Bradley Beal for most of their games so far. In the absence of both through injury, it has been on Kevin Durant’s broad shoulders to carry this squad. A task he has performed admirably.
Nearly as important to Durant in the early goings of the season for the organization has been a bench unit that has outperformed expectations in some key areas. Josh Okogie the most prevalant example, showing up on both ends of the court when the Suns have really needed him.
The Suns should be keeping tabs on the free agent market throughout the season, which makes this available three-time champion an interesting option.
In a trade that surprised nobody – but which came at the peculiar time of late on a Monday night – James Harden has found himself with the L.A. Clippers. Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Daryl Morey finally deciding enough was enough, and moving on from the 34-year-old star.
In order to get the deal done, the 76ers had to waive Danny Green, a three-time NBA Champion who has been in the league since 2010. Sharpshooter Green is by no means the player he used to be, but that doesn’t mean the Suns shouldn’t be interested in his services.
It has become apparent early in the season that Suns head coach Frank Vogel has a second unit that he trusts, as well as a couple of other players who get spot minutes depending on the matchup and injury report. This has included the likes of Jordan Goodwin and Nassir Little.
Two players who are very much on the outside looking in right now for the organization are Bol Bol (four minutes played so far this season) and Keita Bates-Diop (six minutes). That is not to say neither will get their chance as time goes on, but already it looks like both will be limited to a “backup to the backup” role with this group.
Bates-Diop’s path to more minutes is more clear, if only because his skill set more closely mirrors that of Okogie and Eric Gordon. If one of those go down, Bates-Diop can step up. With Bol, it is harder to see where he will crack the rotation, with the player himself saying at media day he is not even sure if he is a guard or a big.
Where Green enters the conversation is as a career 40 percent 3-point shooter, in 832 regular season games. The Suns already have plenty of long-range shooting around their three stars in the form of Grayson Allen, Yuta Watanabe and Gordon. Even Okogie is capable of hitting the odd long-range bomb, with his timely three instrumental in beating the Golden State Warriors.
Over the course of a long regular season – and then once the postseason begins – it could not hurt to have Green on the Suns’ bench. He doesn’t need to play many minutes and would be an insurance policy in case one of Allen, Watanabe or Gordon goes cold.
Green is an awful defender compared to all three of those players, his 36-year-old body no longer allowing him to move around on that end the way that he used to. But the Suns have started this season a lot better on the defensive end than many believed they would, with coach Vogel responsible for that.
If anybody can hide Green on that end, and get him a couple of open looks from behind the arc, it is this team. Already Okogie, Allen and Watanabe have seen the benefits of playing largely with just Durant. Watanabe for example shooting 44.4 percent from deep, albeit on a tiny sample of three games.
Once Booker is back and Beal makes his debut, the space afforded to the role players on this roster is going to be ridiculous. Who better than Green to benefit from that? Even if he only plays as many minutes as Bates-Diop or Bol each night, including in the playoffs, the chance that he gets hot and chips in with six to eight points is greater than it is with the aforementioned players.
The Suns would have to waive a player to make this happen, and that would not be an easy decision. Bol may not be playing right now, but he’s far more intriguing offensively than Green. Then again, Green is a known quantity and the Suns don’t have time to waste in trying to figure out who Bol is. Green is a player to watch for the Suns.