If nothing else, Phoenix is living proof that the winds of change in the NBA blow harder and faster than almost any other league. Just three years ago the Suns’ plan to tank backfired and the team won 48 games. Then, just a year later, their grand three-point guard experiment fell apart and they had to trade both Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic. In 2015-16 Jeff Hornacek completely lost the locker room and his job, the team was essentially forced to trade Markieff Morris and is now in full-on rebuild mode.
There is, however, a bright side in the Valley of the Sun. Phoenix got one of the steals of last year’s draft in Devin Booker, a super young guard with the size and shooting ability to be a star in the modern NBA. Booker went relatively unnoticed in his lone season at Kentucky, but, thanks in part to injuries, the Suns unleashed him as ball-handler and shooter and look like geniuses for picking him.
Booker still has a ways to go defensively and he didn’t have a very efficient year, but the same could be said of most rookies. The Suns have to be encouraged by both his great shooting and playmaking ability.
Phoenix’s future depends a lot on what it chooses to do with its two lottery picks this summer. They need help on the wing and in the frontcourt if they decide Alex Len isn’t everything they thought he could be. Picking fourth and 13th gives them an excellent chance to at least fill one of those spots, if not both.
Other than the now-unfortunate Tyson Chandler contract, their cap sheet is largely clean. If they desired, they could open up max cap space, but they are unlikely to be a major player in free agency and are better served trying to build through the draft.
There is a case to made that $13 million for Brandon Knight is too much, but with the severe cap spikes coming the next two seasons, the Suns would be unlikely to find a more reasonable contract. Knight will remain tradeable if the Suns so desire, but I’d bet they’re still believers in him.
The Suns may not have handled early success very well the first time around, but reloading with, say, Jaylen Brown and Henry Ellenson, as Draft Express projects, in addition to Booker gives them an excellent shot at returning to relevance.