The most glaring need for the Phoenix Suns, and the one that’s lasted nearly two full seasons, is at point guard.
Former Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley was around for about half of the team’s rudderless period before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets last offseason. And while he believes there’s no reality where the Suns can land a star like Brooklyn free agent guard D’Angelo Russell without doing so in a trade, Dudley also thinks there are perfect fits for Phoenix on reasonable free agent deals.
Patrick Beverley’s name was the first out of Dudley’s mouth when the latter was asked by Bickley & Marotta about which free agents the Suns front office should focus on.
“I want culture guys,” Dudley said Monday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “They’ve been bad defensively. (They need) someone who’s going to get in (Devin) Booker’s face, who can push the coaching staff, who can even push fans.
“He doesn’t mind being off the ball with Booker. Combo guards like that. Like, to be honest with you, I don’t think it’d have been a bad idea to trade for (former Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley). You take Conley for two years, you pay him high salary … but those two years, now you’re fighting for a playoff, possibly. So then now you’ve changed the narrative …”
Yet that narrative is the biggest problem with the Suns in terms of their free agent aspirations at present. Beverley would need to be sold.
This upcoming free agency period, Phoenix will reportedly target off-ball lead guards who can play defense.
John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM reported that Indiana Pacers free agent Cory Joseph is atop the list when it comes to point guards. Beverley, Ricky Rubio and Darren Collison are also possibilities.
Beverley, 30, averaged 7.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last year while shooting nearly 40% from deep. He’s one of the most physical lead guards on the defensive end and has a reputation for being one of the most intense competitors in the NBA.
When it comes to money, he could be affordable if the Suns sell him on joining a young team building around the nucleus of Booker and center Deandre Ayton. Last year, Beverley made $5 million, and his Los Angeles Clippers might be squeezed to re-sign him as they can make a run at a high-profile free agent or two.
As for the Suns, Dudley believes they would be playing it right to sign complementary veterans in the $10-$12 million per year range who can add to a new culture in Phoenix.
“Someone like D’Angelo, it’s tough. If you sign him, that’s your whole team,” Dudley said of the money that would be committed to just three players.