Phoenix Suns free agency target at minimum: guards

It’s time to get active at yard sales. Review the offer bucket. Go thrift.

The Phoenix Suns enter free agency Friday afternoon with the veteran minimum at their disposal. In order for them to land rotation-caliber players, those names need to come at a discount.

There are reasons to believe this will happen.

Phoenix has four spots in the rotation on the current roster set: Deandre Ayton, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. It could offer a chance for not only legitimate playing time, but to compete for a starting position.

On top of that, the Suns have re-established themselves in the last three years as one of the league’s marquee franchises with a new practice facility in an area people want to live. That would be on a struggling team that has an excellent chance to win a championship with two superstars known for how easy they are to play alongside.

Realistically, it’s hard to be, er, realistic about free agency, given the guesswork that has to be done on who will be available at what price points. Aim too low and every Suns fan reading this will melt into a puddle of despair. Aim too high and any Suns fan reading this will be expecting too much, sending in time off for the parade 11 months in advance.

We land somewhere in the middle, listing both the players who will almost certainly go for the veteran’s minimum and targets who could come to Phoenix in pursuit of a title, while zeroing in on their own value ahead of next summer.

First up are guards, where the Suns will need a mix of floor generals and off-ball, defensive-minded names to go with Beal and Booker (and likely Cam Payne).

‘Please come and get a discount to win and play a lot*’ level

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The star is in place as this position will consist of three guys in the back half of their careers to some degree so the playing time guarantee is contingent on them, you know, not regressing significantly like guys at this point in their journey often do .

Dennis Schroder is perhaps the easiest dot to connect from the entire free agent class. With his time playing for Frank Vogel in LA, Schroder would be a solid defensive fit and has adapted well to a more off-ball role. And when he’s on it, Schroder gets to the rim, a skill the Suns need to continue to address. He took 53% of his shots around the basket (26%) or the floater area (27%), per Cleaning the glass.

In a similar shoutout, but which requires a separation in “Hey, you broke the face of the Franchise’s nose In one of the most important moments of his life, and would he be chill with you as a teammate?” Tier, that’s Patrick Beverley. The defensive and “winning player” attributes speak for themselves throughout his NBA career.

His position with the Chicago Bulls is confusing. He looked to help turn the tide, going 13-9 in his appearances and getting some credit for doing so. But Chicago outscored teams by 10.6 points per 100 possessions when Beverley was benched in those games, according to NBA statistics.

If the Suns want to go with even more offensive firepower in the guard depth, Eric Gordon’s $20.9 million is non-guaranteed next year, and he’s worth a mention if the Los Angeles Clippers aren’t able to renegotiate a deal out of it this week. Gordon is still one of the NBA’s better shooters, has some juice left to attack the basket and showed in the playoffs that he has a desire to defend physically on the ball.

‘Start in your role so we get you PAID next summer’ level

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Speaking of insult, Seth Curry is one of the most efficient 3-point shooters in the history of the association. Big statement, right? There have been 377 players to make at least 1,500 3s and Curry’s 43.5% ranks fifth all-time, per Stathead. Additionally, Curry provides underrated scoring and can play a bit as well. He feels overpriced, but he won’t find a better situation as a floor-spacing guard who doesn’t need to be on the ball.

On that front, the Philadelphia 76ers moved Shake Milton all over, from starter to bench constantly through a roster with three good shifts. Milton is a big guard who can score and initiate. He’s coming off a star-heavy situation that didn’t go well for him, so maybe a different type of roster is in a better place. But Phoenix still has to consider some kind of supplemental ballhandler, and Milton could essentially be the “third guard.”

Former Suns guard Jevon Carter is worth a brief mention, but the concept behind this section is basically what happened to him with the Milwaukee Bucks last year, and he should get a solid contract from somewhere. A guy who could follow in his footsteps Dennis Smith Jr.

Under defensive-minded Steve Clifford in Charlotte, Smith played stellar defense on a terrible team that has shifted his identity around the league to revitalize his career. The former No. 9 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft was making his fifth team in five years, and that seemed to spark the change to use his athleticism the right way.

After the way Smith has bounced around, landing in the right spot has to be a priority for him. Becoming the high-energy pest off the bench for a winner would be a logical next step that sets Smith up for cash next summer. Under Frank Vogel on such a talented team, he would do just that.

‘One of you probably still has it’ level

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Look, man. All of these veteran point guards have been pretty good at one point, but are all coming off situations where they didn’t play much and/or lacked the impact in their game that they once had.

At least one of them will find the right fit to still show they have something left in the tank, just like Schroder did with the Lakers last year.

Goran Dragic and Reggie Jackson use their skill on the ball to provide value as goalscorers. Ish Smith do it in a different way as more of a playmaker who Raul Neto. Cory Joseph‘s defense didn’t look good in Detroit last year, a key part of who he was in the past. Ditto for George Hill at the age of 37 years.

The Suns want an experienced point guard. Payne’s spot on the roster also feels like the depth chart position one of those names would occupy. Would the free agents offer something more effective or a different enough skill set?

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