Just yesterday, the Phoenix Suns traded guard Brandon Knight and power forward Maruese Chriss to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Ryan Anderson and rookie guard De’Anthony Melton. This trade freed the Rockets up from Anderson’s massive contract, while also helped the Suns unload Knight, who wasn’t receiving a lot of playing time last season. But as I expected, the Suns were without many viable options at point guard, so it didn’t surprise me when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that “the Suns plan to continue pursuing a trade for a starting-level point guard before the regular season.”
Now, 3rd year breakout star Devin Booker can handle the responsibilities of a point guard. Last season, he posted a career high 4.7 APG, steadily increasing about 1.0 APG each season he’s been in the league. Actually, Booker’s previous season was the best of his young career. He had career-highs in PPG (24.9), RPG (4.5), field goal percentage (43.2%), 3-point percentage (38.3%), free-throw percentage (87.8%), and SPG (.9). So worst case scenario, Booker can handle the load of playing point guard for Phoenix next season. It’s either him or a less experienced rookie like Shaquille Harrison or De’Anthony Melton.
But the Suns seem to prefer to have Booker play shooting guard because of these trade rumors. The first player they’ve been pursuing was Portland Trail Blazer 3-time All-Star Damian Lillard. Lillard has been one of the most impressive and consistent point guards since his rookie year back in 2012, and boasted a respectable stat-line last season, averaging 26.9 PPG on 43.9% from the floor and 36.1% from 3, as well as 6.6 APG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.1 SPG. He’s taken the Blazers to 5 consecutive playoffs, but have never made it past the Western Conference Semi Finals. The Blazers got booted from the playoffs in the first round last year, and last January, Lillard was reportedly meeting with the ownership with the team. However, the rumor is still that the Blazers have declined any offer made by the Suns for their franchise guard.
So the next elite guard Phoenix turned to was Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets. Walker is a 2-time All-Star, and like Lillard, has made his mark on the NBA by asserting himself as one of the most consistent top tier guards. Last season, he averaged 22.1 PPG on 43.1% from the floor and 38.4% from 3, as well as 3.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, and 1.1 SPG. Kemba may be a more viable option for the Suns to acquire, as his contract is set to expire after making $12 million this year. However, it seems as though the Suns have had their offer for Kemba denied as well.
The final player they’ve reached out for is Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier, deemed “Scary Terry” in the playoffs for his illustrious performance after taking over Kyrie Irving’s duties. To say Rozier was good in the playoffs is an understatement. For his 35 minutes per game, he averaged 16.5 PPG on 40.6% from the floor, as well as 5.3 RPG, 5.7 APG, and 1.3 SPG. He started all 19 games for the team in the postseason and was simply electric. But concerns began to enter Boston’s mind as they would have to balance playing time between Kyrie Irving, resigned Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier. Rozier has said he doesn’t mind coming off the bench if it results in winning, but if the Suns manage to provide a better offer for Boston, maybe they won’t mind parting ways with the 3rd-year guard.
It seems like the Suns are adamant about adding another guard capable of carrying the point guard duties before the season begins. Whether that comes to fruition will all depend on what the Suns are willing to give up from their young core.
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