In his short tenure as owner, Mat Ishbia has made two extremely bold moves for this Phoenix Suns franchise.
The first move was, of course, trading for Kevin Durant, who is on the wrong side of 30 but still a top 15 player in the Association.
Only eight days into the off-season and the Suns have swung big again, trading for Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal. It could be argued that the Wizards got the short end of the stick due to Beal’s no-trade clause. They are only receiving Chris Paul, who likely won’t stick in the nation’s capital, and Landry Shamet.
The Suns have formed a new big three, maximizing Devin Booker’s championship window.
But with the last few champions neglecting the three-star method to win, there may be questions about whether this can really work.
Going for Broke
Stepping out of the big-three era, we’ve seen the last few champions lean into having only one or two stars. The NBA has become a more duo-heavy league since the Golden State Warriors era with Kevin Durant. The Suns are clearly still trying to win with a three-star method. The issue is, with Beal’s contract only getting more prominent over the next few seasons, the Suns have handicapped themselves in trying to bring in free agents that contribute to winning.
With the Suns now having four max contracts on the books, this could be detrimental in the long term.
There’s no denying the offensive talent between Booker, Beal, and Durant. Yet championships have been won with deep rosters over the last few seasons. There is still a chance that Deandre Ayton could be moved for depth around the star trio. Ayton has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t enjoy playing in Phoenix. Even with a contract as big as Ayton’s, his play in the playoffs may have hurt his value, lessening the potential return the Suns could get even more.
Old Habits Die Hard
The problem with the Suns in the postseason this year was depth. The roster was very top-heavy, and when injuries arose, the roster simply couldn’t keep up with the likes of a deep team like the Nuggets, who used that same depth to win a championship. Booker and Durant alone should be a championship-level duo.
The Suns, instead of getting role players that fit around the two stars, opted to get another star that essentially does the same things Booker and Durant do. There will be times when all three click and carry the Suns to wins throughout the season.
There will also be times when key role players will be vital in a run. Phoenix is evidently all in a championship.
Sticking with the three-star method and decimating depth may come back to bite them in the end.
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