Phoenix Suns slipped up by not signing ideal Lakers player this summer

The Phoenix Suns could have signed Cam Reddish this offseason, and they slipped up by letting him go to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

They say hindsight is 20/20, and never has that been more true than when it comes to the "could have, would have, should have" nature of the NBA. No matter which fanbase you speak to, there are always the trades and free agency signings and players that either didn't happen, or else did happen but it didn't go down the way it was supposed to.

The Phoenix Suns then are no exception, although it would be unfair to say that had a bad offseason. The ability to turn Chris Paul into Bradley Beal was excellent, and so too was being able to fill out the roster with a bunch of competent role players. Most of which have helped the team in some capacity already this season.

Even fringe rotation guys such as Jordan Goodwin and Nassir Little have had their moments, and really if there is one thing that has held the Suns back to this point, it is the fact that their "Big 3" has yet to play a single regular season minute together as a result of injury.

When looking back at the summer though, it is clear the Suns made a mistake in not going after Cam Reddish, who is currently excelling in his role with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nobody in The Valley cared much when the Lakers signed Reddish to a two-year, $4.6 million deal, and they were right not to. Still only 24-years-old, Reddish had already played for three teams, and failed to stick anywhere. Defensively he was a no-show, while the potential he had flashed at Duke which had persuaded the Atlanta Hawks to take him 10th in the 2019 Draft failed to materialize.

But as is so often the case, a player seemingly going nowhere was paired with LeBron James, and great things began to happen. Not that 7.1 points per game on 31.4 percent shooting from deep is much to write home about. In fact statistically, there is nothing about Reddish's game that is standing out right now.

But if you watched the in-season tournament final between the Lakers and the Indiana Pacers, then you saw a player who suddenly cares a hell of a lot, and who put forth a level of effort on the defensive end that had been painfully lacking from his game. Put simply - Reddish has been given a small role on a contender - and he is executing it beautifully right now.

Defensively the Lakers are still better off when Reddish is off the court (110.3 as a team compared to 114.3 when he is out there), and offensively he languishes way behind even Taurean Prince in terms of plays called for him, and shots taken per game (5.8 for Reddish, 7.8 for Prince).

But at 24.1 minutes per game, Reddish plays more frequently than Rui Hachimura (23 minutes), Christian Wood (19.7 minutes) and Max Christie (17.6 minutes). Most interestingly of all - of the 19 games Reddish has played for the Lakers so far this season - he has started 12 of them. Both James and head coach Darvin Ham trust the player, and there aren't many who saw that coming.

Where this relates to the Suns is that they too could have afforded Reddish at the price the Lakers got him at, and he could have done a similar job for them. With their star players each missing some time, Reddish could have had an even bigger offensive role in Phoenix. That may have been a disaster, but so too are some of the players that the Suns opted to sign instead of Reddish.

Namely Yuta Watanabe (two-years, $5 million), Keita Bates-Diop (two-years, $5 million) and Bol Bol (one-year, $2 million). That Bol deal in particular has got to sting because they could have looked at Reddish on a one-year deal for similar money. Given that Bol barely ever plays and Reddish is out there starting for the Lakers on identical money, that has to go down as a missed opportunity.

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Bates-Diop has had his moments - although he has struggled for consistency - while it just hasn't happened for Watanabe. One has to imagine that Reddish wouldn't have taken much convincing to play with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, although it is fair to point out that playing in Los Angeles with LeBron is definitely hard to turn down.

But if James himself is publicly backing you, and you play your part in winning a trophy while being paid a small amount of money, then this has to be looked at as a missed opportunity by the Suns. One they surely wish they could do over, because if the playoffs started today, Reddish would be in the shortened rotation for the Suns. Just like he will be for the Lakers.