Tyrese Haliburton confirms Suns missed golden opportunity to land the star guard

The Suns missed their shot at landing Tyrese Haliburton.
Phoenix Suns, Tyrese Haliburton
Phoenix Suns, Tyrese Haliburton / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns have had major draft misses since taking Devin Booker in 2015. Fans will point to taking Deandre Ayton over Luka Doncic in 2018 as the most obvious blunder, but Phoenix selected Dragan Bender and Josh Jackson in the top four. They are no strangers to draft misses, and the Suns lost their shot at another star point guard in 2020.

Phoenix had the tenth selection in an uncertain draft. It was pushed back to November by the pandemic. There was limited travel and difficulty watching players in person, which made scouting difficult. Many thought Tyrese Haliburton would go in the top five, but he slid to the Kings at 12. The Suns regrettably took Jalen Smith, who lasted just over one season in Phoenix.

Many assumed Haliburton had the franchise on his do-not-draft list, but that was not the case. The All-Star confirmed his side of the story during Team USA training camp.

Tyrese Haliburton had interest in being drafted by the Suns

The two-time All-Star just led the Pacers to the conference finals and is only 24 years old. He is one of the best playmakers in the league and figures to be elite for the next decade-plus.

Suns former head coach Monty Williams stated the franchise could not get Haliburton back in 2022, but the All-Star denies those claims. According to Haliburton, the Cavaliers and Hawks were the only teams on his do-not-draft list. He notes the other teams decided against drafting him.

Phoenix had just acquired Chris Paul to pair with Devin Booker in 2020. They had their playmaker and top scorer in the backcourt. Drafting Haliburton would have created some overlap, but it was a foolish long-term play given CP3’s age. Yes, the Suns wanted to win immediately, but Haliburton could have blossomed behind Paul before taking over near the end of his rookie contract.

Haliburton went to the Kings with De’Aaron Fox in the draft. Clearly, he was not afraid of competition at point guard. Sacramento famously traded him to Indiana for Domantas Sabonis in 2022.

Imagine the Suns drafting Tyrese Haliburton to pair with Devin Booker. They would have taken an extremely different path and may not have been forced to trade for Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. Booker and Haliburton would have put them in contention after Paul’s departure and would give them one of the brightest futures in the league.

The Phoenix Suns struck out in the 2020 NBA Draft. They should have just selected the highest player on their board, which was likely Haliburton. He likely never plays in Phoenix, but the Suns can still dream about the possibility of having the All-Star guard.

Booker and Haliburton are members of Team USA for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Fans can see them in action and think about what could have been in the Valley of the Sun.