24. Phoenix Suns
Taking stock of the Suns’ offseason altogether, it has been a series of steps in the right direction.
Now, it can be difficult to see things that way for a franchise whose identity has become tied to its lack of an identity. That’s been true since Steve Nash was traded to the Lakers in 2011. They’ve alternated between treading water and tying an anchor to their feet in the seven subsequent seasons, mostly tanking while occasionally stumbling into success. Aside from drafting Devin Booker at No. 13 in 2015, it’s tough to pinpoint one pivotal decision for Phoenix that has led them to this point.
Yet through sheer force of failure (and one of the strongest propensities for moving up on draft night we’ve seen), the Suns stack up well against the league’s other young cores.
This year, they added a seventh lottery pick to this roster (counting Alex Len, whose cap hold was renounced before the start of free agency) in the form of Deandre Ayton, after hiring Igor Kokoskov from Utah to be their new head coach. Both moves were lauded and point toward long-term stability. Neither was the most risky nor creative choice, but present one of the highest likelihoods for a return to relevance.
They made the smart move of rolling over most of their cap space to 2019, signing just one free agent, Trevor Ariza, who soaked up the majority of their 2018 room. He should be a starter right away, providing a veteran presence for a rotation that includes last year’s No. 4 pick, Josh Jackson, and the target of Phoenix’s latest trade-ahead, Mikal Bridges.
If the plan stays on target, we’ll feel pretty great about this team in a year’s time.