Coming off a disheartening Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the postseason, the Phoenix Suns will certainly be one of the most interesting teams to follow in the 2022 offseason.
One year after falling just two games short of winning their first ever NBA Championship, the Suns’ dream 2021-22 season ended in a humiliating 123-90 loss at the Footprint Center. Needless to say, the pressure is on GM James Jones and head coach Monty Williams to figure out what went wrong, and what can be fixed.
The Suns entered the postseason as a top betting favorite to win the 2022 NBA Championship at multiple sportsbooks. That said, the Suns should remain in title contention over the long run, and residents of “The Copper State” can take advantage of the many Arizona sportsbook promo codes for new customers.
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Needless to say, the Suns roster could look quite different come 2022-23. Jones may look to find a take for veteran big man Dario Šarić, who’s entering the final season of a three-year, $27 million pact.
Šarić unfortunately had to miss the entire 2021-22 season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL that he suffered in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. In his two seasons with the Suns, Šarić has averaged 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
Veteran forward Jae Crowder is also entering the final year of his contract. If Jones decides to clear cap space for a big move, don’t be shocked if Crowder and/or Šarić end up moving.
JaVale McGee Is Open To A Return
One of Jones’ toughest decisions? To keep or not to keep veteran center and pending free agent JaVale McGee.
McGee won back-to-back NBA Championships with the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018 and a third ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.
McGee came to Phoenix last year and served well both on the court and as a locker room leader, so it’s not exactly surprising that he’s open to playing another year in The Desert.
“Definitely consider it (a return to Phoenix), definitely consider an opportunity,” McGee told Arizona Sports. “At this point in my career, I’m definitely focused on myself and what’s best for me and my situation and my family. I know what I bring to a team if it’s any organization that I go to. For me, that’s what it’s all about. Make sure I’m valuing myself as much as the team (is) valuing me.”
McGee averaged 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game during the regular season with the Suns. Given his age (34) and winning pedigree, McGee should be one of the more sought-after players in the bargain free agency tier.
Deandre Ayton Reportedly Seeking “Maximum Salary”
Suns center Deandre Ayton is one of the top names being thrown around in trade rumors.
The first overall pick of the 2018 draft had another productive season for the Suns. But with Devin Booker and Chris Paul already signed to lucrative contracts, Jones may not be able to pay Ayton what he wants.
Citing league sources, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer recently reported that the soon-to-be 24-year-old “is expected to command a maximum salary.” Fischer added that some NBA executives are skeptical that “the Suns would match such a lucrative offer.”
Fischer added that the NBA’s top regular season team “quietly gauged his trade value in February”, though no deal came to fruition. In his report, Fischer added that the Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers and Atlanta Hawks have been “most often linked by league personnel” as potential landing spots.
Ayton is a pivotal part of the Suns’ core, but the untimely playoff exit could prompt Jones into making a drastic change. If Kevin Durant wants out of Brooklyn, for example, the Suns may feel inclined to move Ayton and other high-salaried players to improve the roster.
Ayton’s production has been consistent over his first four professional seasons. In 2021-22, he averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
For his career, Ayton has averaged 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per contest.
Ayton won’t become the face of the franchise with Booker and an ageless Paul in the fold. If the Suns decide to trade the former first overall pick, there should be no shortage of interested teams in his services.