There’s reason to believe Jones could let him run this season and waive the trade deadline.
We’ve entered that point in the season where we really learn how general managers perceive their basketball teams. With one month to go until the change deadline, which occurs on Thursday, February 9, buyers and sellers will make themselves known. We’re all looking forward to seeing what happens with the 20-20 phoenix suns will serve.
It’s been a topsy-turvy season for most NBA teams. The standings are constantly changing, and with 10 of 14 teams in each conference reaching the postseason (playoffs or play-in), we have yet to see many transactions.
The play-in tournament has changed the way the trade deadline is carried out. General managers have a harder time determining whether or not they are buyers or sellers in this market. It’s hard to cash in your chips and try to restart when you’re the 11th seed sitting a game and a half out of the opening game.
One question I’m constantly considering is whether James Jones will just let him run this season. A Jae Crowder transaction must surely be in the future. It’s a contract about to expire, that he has the appeal of him, as well as a veteran leader with physicality. Up to this point, though, that hasn’t been valuable enough for teams to offer a trade that satisfies what James Jones perceives to be his value.
The franchise has been sold but the signatures are not yet on paper. Robert Sarver can still veto any trade. It seems there are too many variables that prevent the Suns from being active buyers.
The James Jones story with Deadline
I know it’s frustrating to see the Suns sit idly by. There are many opportunities to improve this team. A creator of secondary shots. A true power forward. Depth of the defense zone.
If James Jones could make an addition to this @Suns list, what should you buy?
— Suns JAM Session Podcast (@SunsJAM) January 6, 2023
History tells us that James Jones is not very active at the deadline. Here are the moves he’s made since he took over GM around the trade deadline:
- 2020 (Sun 12 in the West): Nothing.
- 2021 (domes 2nd at West): Cash traded at milwaukee dollars for torrey craig
- 2022 (Soles 1st in West): Traded Jalen Smith and a 2022 second-round pick to Indiana Pacers for Torrey Craig; traded in cash at washington wizards for aaron vacation
Torrey Craig is currently on the Suns’ roster, making it impossible for James Jones to acquire him via trade for the third year in a row.
The fact is, Champ has shown a history of someone rocking the boat at the deadline. The question of why he continually confuses the fanbase. In 2021, the team needed a big backup and there were plenty on the market at the time. In 2022, a shot maker was needed for the bench unit (Eric Gordon*). None of these needs was met.
*Eric Gordon, to be fair, is still with the Rockets to this day and they are said to still demand an unprotected first-round pick for him.
When it comes to Jones, while I get frustrated in the short term, I always try to view what he’s doing through the lens of the long-term health of the franchise. Is that what he’s doing again? Is he looking at this year as if he was playing with money from the house?
Benefits of letting travel
Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe Jones is looking at this season as a chance to win a championship. next station. To breathe. I know it’s hard to digest. Nobody wants to hear that their team is focused on the future and not on the present. Although the arizona diamondbacks they have been in that state of operation since 208.
It might be better for the franchise’s long-term success to stick with the roster as-is (minus a Jae Crowder trade, of course). And maybe short-term success too.
Jones can keep his roster together, let it rebound and have a late-season raise that could lead to playoff success because the Western Conference seems to be wide open.
We all know what it’s like to peak too soon, right? Do you remember last season? The 64-win Suns did not make it out of the second round. Injuries and fatigue hit them just when it counted the most. On the contrary, the warriors of the golden state — a team that struggled with injuries during the 2021-22 regular season — stepped up when it mattered most.
Do you remember your trade deadline agreement? Not? General manager Bob Myers didn’t make one.
While I’m not endorsing this tactic, it could be one Jones is considering. Could the Suns look at this season and just accept it for what it is? What’s the point of pooling numerous assets to acquire a mid-level player if the end result is an early postseason exit?
Let’s explore that last question.
The Suns have numerous players with contracts that expire at the end of this season. Jae Crowder ($10.3 million), Dario Saric ($9.2 million), Torrey Craig ($5.1 million), Bismack Biyombo ($1.8 million), Damion Lee ($1.8 million) and Josh Okogie ($1, 8 million) are unrestricted free agents this summer.
Combined, that’s $30 million coming off the books. The upcoming season is also the last before Devin Booker’s supermax kicks in ($36 million in 2023-24, $50 million in 2024-25). $15.8 million of Chris Paul’s contract is guaranteed.
Traditional thinking is to trade some of those assets in an effort to earn a return rather than simply letting them go. We’re thinking that’s what James Jones should do. He stacks contracts in an effort to provide help to the team.
James Jones never does what we think he should do.
What’s the point of pooling numerous assets to acquire a mid-level player if the end result is an early postseason exit? He may be trying to avoid handcuffing himself in the next few years by racking up a Crowder/Saric trade ($19.5 million out) for an asset that’s worth $19.5 million but has a longer contract. And let’s be serious, the only attraction for Dario is the fact that his contract expires at the end of the year. He’s a minimal league guy for the rest of his career.
It’s worth making the case that Phoenix and James Jones have accepted who they are this season. If that amounts to a deep playoff run, great. Otherwise, James could be saving his assets, and instead of burning them down and getting new contracts, he could be waiting to push all his money and make a deep run on the free agent market.
Who is available on the free market next season? Kyrie Irving. D-Lo. Jerami Scholarship. Myles Turner. Caris LeVert. Will Barton. Josh Richardson. Reggie Jackson. Christian Wood. The list go and go…
Devin Booker is at his best. Deandre Ayton approaches hers. Chris Paul has one foot out the door. The time to win is not necessarily now. It’s the next five years. Jones may be preparing to make this franchise as financially flexible as possible.
Am I okay with letting it go? Hell no. It’s the Kevin Durant situation again. We are waiting… and waiting… and waiting… for nothing.
I’m tired of watching and waiting to see what Jones is going to do. I’m tired of wondering if he has some long-term master plan for this franchise instead of acting in the “now.” I’m tired of not having a championship in Phoenix.
That’s where we are. Tired. The fanbase is tired of the lack of improvement to James Jones’ roster. He’s getting to the point where people constantly remind us of every draft pick they’ve missed. He could calm those naysayers by bringing Kyle Kuzma to the Valley.
That the Suns 2023 first-round pick is gaining more value by the day
—John Win (@DarthWin) January 7, 2023
James isn’t sitting around watching the Suns get worse simply to increase the value of their 2023 first-round pick, is he? Is he not letting it run in the hope that the Suns have a percentile shot at French stud Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson? Now that’s a bit of 4D chess.
As usual, we will continue to wait and see. The change deadline is approaching. Based on your activity, we’ll see if you #InJamesJonesWeTrust.