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Even after their most impressive win of the season, the Phoenix Suns could still use some help.
While Tuesday night’s 125-113 win over the Golden State Warriors represented a surprising return to form for the Suns, it was hardly a sustainable formula — not because of their style of play, but because they’re severely shorthanded at the moment.
After a standout win over the defending champs, it’d be tempting to forget the Suns have been limping through a brutal stretch that’s tested their mental resolve. They had lost six straight games before that and 15 of their last 20.
The biggest culprit has been injuries. Devin Booker has missed more than two weeks of action with a left groin strain and won’t be re-evaluated for another two. Cam Payne’s right foot sprain won’t be re-evaluated for two weeks. Cam Johnson’s been out for more than two months, and now Chris Paul — who missed a month earlier in the season — has missed the last two games with right hip soreness. Deandre Ayton (left ankle sprain) and Landry Shamet (right hip soreness) missed the Warriors game as well.
Fortunately, temporary help may finally be on the way:
Good win for Phoenix tonight! I would expect with the injury situation being what it is right now that the Suns add someone in the next day or two – most likely via the 10-day contract.
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) January 11, 2023
Adding a player on a 10-day contract would hardly let general manager James Jones off the hook; it’s clear that even when fully healthy, Phoenix’s bench rotation is still suspect. Booker was carrying too heavy a load before he got hurt, and whether it’s Jones’ inability to facilitate a Jae Crowder trade or his hands being tied by Robert Sarver, the Suns have failed to supply their star with enough help.
A 10-day addition is only a short-term stitches on a wound that requires more extensive surgery, but it’d still help at this dire point of the season. Earlier this week on the PHNX Suns podcast, we went through a few legitimate — and some not-so-serious — candidates:
In the interest of being thorough, here are a few names Phoenix should consider for a 10-day.
This is the name circulating throughout Suns Twitter, and the appeal is understandable: With Paul and Payne sidelined and Duane Washington Jr. learning to be more of a point guard, this team badly needs more ball-handling, shot creation and playmaking. Walker could help in those regards.
Although he was just waived by the Dallas Mavericks five days ago, his nine-game stint there still had enough flashes to be worth a look. Averaging 8.0 points and 2.1 assists in 16.0 minutes per game, the 32-year-old veteran exploded for 32 points in one mid-December gem. If the concern with adding a 10-day point guard is that he’ll receive the Washington or Aaron Holiday treatment, Walker is the type of experienced veteran who’s more likely to earn coach Monty Williams’ trust from the jump.
However, efficiency is still a question mark. Walker shot just 42 percent from the field with Dallas, including a career-worst 25 percent from 3. He may be a career 36 percent shooter from long range, but if he didn’t have enough left in the tank to help Dallas, would he be able to make an impact during his limited time in Phoenix?
Having a fellow banana boat buddy like Chris Paul on the roster certainly wouldn’t hurt in convincing Melo to join the Suns. And we know the Point God wouldn’t mind!
Asked Chris Paul if he's surprised Carmelo Anthony hasn't signed with an NBA team:
"Somebody of that caliber, with that ability, with the heart that he has, and the stuff he’s done for the game – he should be able to walk off the court when he’s ready."
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) January 2, 2023
The question is, would a Hall-of-Famer like Anthony agree to a 10-day? Or would he need a full roster spot? The answer to that question probably determines how feasible this is.
As a 20-year veteran and top-10 all-time NBA scorer, Melo would have Williams’ respect from day one. Even if his abilities are a far cry from what they once were, he can still help a shorthanded team in need of some offense.
Anthony can be a bit of a ball-stopper at times, but when the Suns go through one of their offensive slumps, perhaps he could help. It was just last year that he averaged 13.3 points per game for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he did it on 44.1 percent shooting overall and 37.5 percent shooting from long range. He’s a defensive sieve at age 38, so it’s not an ideal fit, but if the idea is getting temporary aid, Phoenix could do worse.
Dorsey has bounced around the NBA, the G League and overseas since he was first drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2017. He spent three games with the Mavs this season, barely cracking the rotation. Before that, he hadn’t been in the league since the 2018-19 campaign.
However, Dorsey balled out for Greece in EuroBasket a few months ago, and in his one game with the Texas Legends since returning to the G League four days ago, he dropped 30 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds.
As a 6-foot-4 off-guard, he doesn’t address the Suns’ problems in the playmaking department. But this 26-year-old certainly has scoring and shooting chops, making him worth a look.
Remember Grant Riller? The 56th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Grant Riller? The second-leading scorer in the G League this season, Grant Riller??
He may only have seven games to his name during his one year with the Charlotte Hornets, but this 6-foot-1 point guard has never had a problem putting the ball in the hole. He’s always been more of a score-first guard, but he’s also been highly efficient in doing so.
Through his first five G League games, he’s averaging 27.8 points and 4.8 assists per game on .521/.400/.917 shooting splits. In his four years in college, he put up 18.7 points a night on .519/.356/.796 shooting splits. The Suns could use some of that scoring ability right now!
Every Suns fan should be sending their collective energy/thoughts/vibes for us to sign Grant Riller to a 10 day contract. Dude is averaging 30 in the G. Playing for Cam Payne’s old affiliation, we need buckets, and he’s ELITE. Get it done.
— Durag Hoops (@DuragHoops) January 11, 2023
Would Eric Bledsoe wanna be here this time? That’s debatable. More importantly, could he even be here right now? Bled is currently playing for the Shanghai Sharks, averaging 17.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, so it’s unclear what kind of opt-out clause it’d take to get him stateside again — and whether he’d even want to if it’s only for a 10-day.
However, logistics aside, Bledsoe is a tenacious defender with NBA experience. He’s not the high-level facilitator Phoenix could use right now, but if it’s only for 10 or 20 days, he could at least help patch up one hole in the rotation.
What better way to mend old wounds from the nail salon?
Augustin could help plug some holes in the backcourt, even at age 35. He couldn’t solve any of the Lakers’ many problems last season, but he still shot a respectable 45.3 percent overall and 42.6 percent from 3 (on 3.2 attempts a night).
He wasn’t exactly productive, averaging just 5.3 points and 1.6 assists in his 17.3 minutes per game, but the Suns just need a trustworthy floor general to run offense, manage the team, move the ball and avoid turnovers. Even on his last legs, Augustin can probably still do those things.
How about another friendly face at a position of need?
Moore hasn’t been seen in the NBA since his 27 games with the Suns two years ago, but he’s familiar with their system and personnel. He dropped 22 points in his last regular season game with Phoenix, so it’s clear that — not so long ago — he could produce when he received minutes and was called upon.
The Suns could certainly use some of that readiness at the moment.
He’s a little more ball-dominant than the Suns would probably prefer for their 0.5 offense, but there’s no question Rondo is one of the smartest players the game has seen over the last two decades. He can facilitate and he shows up for nationally televised games, which Phoenix will have plenty of during this shorthanded stretch.
Rondo hasn’t been seen since his 21 games with the Cavs last year, but at age 36, he can still think the game and playmake for others while also drilling the occasional, back-breaking 3. Paul’s presence on the roster might make this a nonstarter considering their history, but a team in dire need of backcourt help might value his services at this point.
It’s another day to be great!
In all seriousness, Galloway hasn’t been seen in the NBA since brief stints with the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets last season, which lasted a combined seven games. So basically, he hasn’t been a regular rotation guy since he was in Phoenix two years ago.
However, Galloway is back in the G League, averaging 14.6 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting from downtown. Those numbers hardly leap off the page, but the 31-year-old sharpshooter has familiarity with Monty Williams’ system and most of the Suns’ personnel. Would a career 36.8 percent 3-point shooter really be the worst addition on a 10-day?
We’re really digging deep now, but Simpson has shown promise lately. Although most G League teams have only played 5-7 games at this point, Simpson stands out as the league’s top assist man, averaging 11.2 dimes per game. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also putting up 17.4 points and 4.4 rebounds on .471/.409/.889 shooting splits.
Simpson would probably run into the same problem as every other guard on this list: It takes a lot for Monty Williams to trust young guards at this level. But perhaps the playmaking would give him an edge, and the fact that he’s 25 and impressed during his four games with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season doesn’t hurt either.
Lecque didn’t get many opportunities with the Suns three years ago or the Indiana Pacers two years back, but he’s still only 22 years old and is currently putting up 20.1 points, 5.9 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in the G League.
His 3-point shot still needs work, but he’s shooting a tidy 45.1 percent overall and might be worth a look as a development prospect. Then again, the Suns already have a developing, undersized 22-year-old guard who has trouble earning minutes. Adding another one to the equation probably doesn’t solve much.
Ignore Shaq Harrison’s past stints with the Suns and the meager 8.2 points per game he’s averaging in the G League right now. Remember, instead, his defensive brilliance during his time in the NBA, and focus on the whopping 10.0 assists per game he’s averaging.
Harrison bouncing around the league (and the G League) is no accident, but if the playmaking has improved and he’s still that same tenacious defender, maybe he’s not the worst retread option at the Suns’ disposal?
Like Melo and a few other names on this list, Noah Vonleh does little to solve the Suns’ most pressing needs in the backcourt. However, they still need size and rebounding at the 4, and Vonleh checks both boxes.
The 6-foot-10 forward was recently traded from the Boston Celtics to the San Antonio Spurs, who immediately waived him. The former top-10 pick holds career averages of 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, and during his time in Beantown, he failed to live up to even those numbers.
But even if he hasn’t played a significant role since 2018-19, the Suns are desperate for production, rebounding and size. Vonleh is still only 27 years old and could be worth a look, even if it’s a very brief one.
Like Bledsoe, Bjelica is currently playing overseas, so it’s unclear how his contract with Fenerbahce would impact his ability (or desire) to return to the NBA on a mere 10-day deal.
With that being said, Bjelica would lend size, veteran experience and 3-point shooting to the Suns. He’s a 6-foot-10 stretch-forward who could provide depth at the 4, even if he’s not the most fleet-footed guy. He just won a championship with the Warriors last season, and as a career 38.4 percent shooter from deep, he can capably spread the floor.
Paschall’s once promising NBA career has completely fallen off the rails since his upstart rookie season. After getting signed to a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves in July, he was cut in October before playing a single game in the 2022-23 campaign.
Does he have room to grow and actually help an NBA team at this point? It’s a big question mark. Mikal Bridges probably wouldn’t mind having his former Villanova teammate in Phoenix, but there’s no guarantee he’d provide the scoring, rebounding, defense or floor-spacing they’d like to see at that 4-spot.
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