NBA Daily: What is Phoenix Doing?

The Phoenix Suns’ trade for Ryan Anderson raises some concerns, writes Shane Rhodes.

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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The Phoenix Suns have made a slew of great moves over the last few months. The team named Igor Kokoškov as the new head coach back in May before making Deandre Ayton the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Phoenix has since inked Devin Booker to an extension that will keep their best player in Arizona for the foreseeable future.

But then, on Friday, they did this.

Coupled with the signing of veteran Trevor Ariza earlier this offseason, the move for Anderson (who is projected to start) signals that Phoenix will at least try to be competitive next season. Ariza posted solid numbers while playing heavy minutes with the Houston Rockets last year, averaging 11.1 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 36.8 percent from three and playing above average defense. Anderson, meanwhile, was faded by Houston down the stretch, but is still a capable shooter and should rebound with more playing time.

The Suns haven’t exactly had a problem with their level of competition over the last half-decade, so why are they doing this now? The Western Conference is more talented than ever with LeBron James — and a number of other high-level players — taking their talents out West, so it seems like an inopportune time to try and jump into the playoff picture. So, what exactly do these moves mean for Phoenix? And how could it impact their future?

Right now, the answers to those questions don’t look good.

There are certainly some positives to take away from this most recent trade as well as the Ariza signing; Anderson and Ariza provide veteran leadership to a very young roster. As the Rockets went toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors, they learned first-hand what it takes in order for a team to be successful, and the lessons they can teach the Suns’ youth could prove invaluable.

Their arrival could also remedy some major problems, including the Suns’ league-worst three-point percentage and (more specifically with Ariza) their also league-worst defensive rating. The acquisition of rookie point guard De’Anthony Melton is a boon for their weakest roster spot and should aid their defense as well. After years of tanking the Suns have the resemblance of a team that could compete on a nightly basis.

That’s about where the positives end, however.

Anderson’s massive albatross of a contract is an inherent negative. Owed more than $40 million over the next two seasons, Anderson will tie up money and valuable cap space that Phoenix would be better served using elsewhere.

Anderson and Ariza also add to an already existing logjam at the forward spot. Not only that, but the two will funnel minutes away from the youth of Phoenix — T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges, Dragan Bender, etc. — and could serve to stunt the overall growth and potential of those players. Not only would that be a disservice to the players and fans, but to themselves as an organization as well.

Another potential negative could be the effect on Phoenix’s future draft stock. The Suns are still rebuilding; their primary goals should still revolve around acquiring young talent via the draft. But all of this seems to fly in the face of that.

Yes, Anderson, Ariza and any other acquisitions made between now and the start of the season could improve the Suns’ immediate fortunes. But, short of a major blockbuster, there is nothing the team could do to push them into the Western Conference playoff picture. While the fans may enjoy some extra wins here or there, they would only serve to worsen their chances at a high pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, a draft flush with high-end talent that could provide Phoenix with yet another franchise-altering piece.

Another thing that may get overlooked is just how quickly the Suns gave up on Marquese Chriss. The Suns sent the Sacramento Kings a multitude of assets to acquire Chriss, the No. 8 overall pick in 2016, on his draft night, including two first round picks, a second round pick and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanović.

Now, with Chriss off to Houston, Phoenix looks even worse for making the deal.

Chriss hadn’t impressed much during his two seasons with the Suns, but he at times flashed some of the potential that made him a top-10 pick. Phoenix giving up on Chriss so easily is just another example of poor decision making by the organization that got them to this point in the first place.

So, while no one can say for sure how next season will play out, things aren’t looking good for the Suns after a promising start to their offseason. The reasoning behind the Anderson and Ariza acquisitions isn’t readily apparent, and that should worry those who were looking forward to watching the youth of Phoenix grow.

At the very least, it should be interesting to see how the Suns handle the situation as well as the potential fit of Anderson and Ariza with the wealth of young talent on the roster as well, both next season and going forward.

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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