Why did the Phoenix Suns bring back Ish Wainright for the rest of the season?

The Phoenix Suns announced Monday that they are bringing Ish Wainright back to the team, but why did the use their last roster spot on the forward?

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns made a somewhat unexpected roster move on Monday, with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting that the organization are bringing Ish Wainright back into the fold on a two-way deal. Although not official yet, this likely means that Saben Lee's own way two-way contract will be converted into a full-time deal.

Lee would then take the Suns' final roster spot, with Wainright rejoining a team he only left during the season, and where he had spent the last two seasons before that. Wainright always came across as a popular individual with the franchise, and off the court at least they are sure to be happy that he is back.

On the court however it is a different matter - so much so that the question needs to be asked - why exactly did the Suns bring him back once again?

There's no doubt Wainright can do a job in some spot minutes for the team - but even at his best with the franchise - he put up 4.2 points in just over 15 minutes of action. That came back in 2022-23, when Wainright appeared in 60 games. Now 29-years-old, what was the thinking in not only adding Wainright, but Thaddeus Young through the buyout market as well?

Young has only appeared in two games for the Suns so far, and the overlap in body type and skill set with Wainright is certainly there. If Young was brought in as the veteran chasing a ring to solidify the end of a playoff rotation - and that was the only reason to go and get him - it makes the addition of Wainright seem redundant.

You could make the case that Wainright could have seen some regular season minutes ahead of the postseason, but there are 21 games left for the Suns, and they won't have Devin Booker for about a week (and that is being optimistic) either. This team needs to win games to avoid the play-in tournament, and it is hard to see how Wainright helps move the needle in that regard.

As a negative knock-on effect, turning Lee into a full-time player with the group is also a risk. He had looked lively while Bradley Beal was on his way back from a hamstring issue, but is he the answer to the lack of depth at the point guard position for the Suns? Could they not have gone out and gotten another floor general from the buyout market instead?

We have looked at the fact teams overestimate the buyout market recently, but Lee is a limited player who can only give you so much. The Suns also cut another guard in Theo Maledon to get Wainright in the door, but some added depth here was surely the move to make. Booker is injured right now and Beal is never far away from his next stint on the treatment table, and Wainright doesn't help that.

Instead he joins a crowded frontcourt that includes center Jusuf Nurkic, his backup in Drew Eubanks, Kevin Durant, the constantly improving Bol Bol, Udoka Azubuike and now Wainright. Whereas outside of Booker, Beal and Lee, the next ball-handler on the roster is... Grayson Allen? Eric Gordon?

We know head coach Frank Vogel can get the most defensively out of bigs like Wainright, and he had this to say about the player as recently as October of this season;

"He was in here more than anybody on our team. He's an extremely, extremely dedicated hard worker. He wants to perfect his craft and a good culture guy. Our whole organization loves having him around, and I've enjoyed getting to know him."

Frank Vogel on Ish Wainright

So coach Vogel may have had something to do with this, but wouldn't a recently bought out player like Shake Milton make more sense? Milton has plenty of experience from his time with the Philadelphia 76ers - and although he is likely to sign with the New York Knicks once he clears waivers - he is the kind of player they should be targeting.

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Instead it is a re-thread at a stacked position that the Suns have decided to spend their valuable last roster spot on. Perhaps Wainright is the right guy to have around this team because of his popularity off the court. But once the playoffs start, Wainright isn't likely to see the court, and it is hard to see where his minutes will come from even before then.