Day 1 of free agency is done with several teams making some splash. In fact, more than $1 billion was thrown around within the first hour.
The Phoenix Suns only played a small part in that as theirs were mere sprinkles. They already made their own noise weeks prior, when they acquired All-Star scoring machine Bradley Beal to form a three-headed monster of scorers, alongside Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.
It’s an all-in move by the franchise, perhaps mostly by new owner Mat Ishbia. Whichever it may be, it decimated the team’s salary cap situation and cornered the front office in trying to efficiently fill out the roster. You can’t win without proper depth.
Note that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has been put in place, and though it will begin in the 2024-25 season, the Suns will have to be more careful in hopes of somehow neutralizing the penalties of entering the second apron.
As such, the Suns wasted no time signing players that centered the Venn Diagram of good and affordable.
It was one after the other as they inked Drew Eubanks, Keita Bates-Diop, and Chimezie Metu, re-signed Josh Okogie and Damion Lee, and snagged Durant’s former Brooklyn Nets teammate and fan-favorite, Yuta Watanabe. All in rapid succession.
The first three are little-known role players, so prepare to hear and read criticisms about those signings, especially since one of the main reasons the Suns got booted out of the 2022 playoffs is poor depth.
However, if you’ve watched those three in their prior teams, all provide great effort when called upon, and each can be solid contributors:
- Eubanks averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds on 64.6% shooting in his final 22 games of the 2021-22 season for the Portland Trail Blazers. He was plugged in via trade and immediately produced. This past season, he closed things out by posting 12.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks in his final eight outings.
- Bates-Diop had 13.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, on 56.3% shooting (47.4% from three) over his last 17 games for the San Antonio Spurs this season.
- Metu got fewer minutes in ’22-23 due to the arrival of All-Star Domantas Sabonis, but he was serviceable in the season prior. He chipped in 8.9 points and 5.6 boards as a back-up center in his ’21-22 campaign.
Watanabe, meanwhile, is easily the biggest get out of the bunch. Durant probably vouched for the Japanese sensation as they appeared to have quite the chemistry in Brooklyn. The 28-year-old will enter his fifth year in the league and has established himself as a prototypical ‘3 and D’ weapon.
Remember his insane stat from last season?
Overall, here’s what the entire Suns roster looks like following all the additions:
Finally, let’s not forget the new maestro in the bench, champion coach and defensive guru Frank Vogel. He’s an underrated hire that should generate more optimism. Expect his veteran presence to mix and match the talent around the team and flex his coaching chops.
The Suns are also not done bringing in reinforcements for Vogel and their Big 3. The signings should remain interesting moving forward.