7 Game Sorrows

Updated: May 19, 2022

Less than 10 days ago a survey across the league would’ve shown a unanimous poll that the battle between the Suns and Pels was nothing but a fluke. A false start due to the absence of Devin Booker gave legs to a young New Orleans squad that had nothing to lose since they never really were supposed to be there in the first place. Yet as we all attempt to deconstruct the death of the 1 seed of the West, on this side of the autopsy table, maybe Phoenix’s regular-season success had blinded us to the red flags and warning signs that flashed in the first round. The question surrounding the Valley is what do the Suns do now on the backend of this 7-game collapse at the hands of the Slovenian Serpent? Especially, if the Warriors handle the Mavericks in 6, the way Vegas expects them to.

It’s difficult to imagine greener pastures on the other side of this upcoming offseason with how loaded the West has become in its resurrection. Sure the Utah Jazz is expected to unload one of their two stars in a soft rebuild but they’ll be replaced by the Joker + Murray combo in Denver. The Warriors appear to only be ascending with the emergence of Jordan Poole and with an offseason to recalibrate, Klay Thompson should be in better shape come October. Jason Kidd’s Luka-Mavs should be slotted in as a top-tier team for the foreseeable future and their arch enemy Clippers will be reloaded by next post season with their PG13/Klaw combo. That’s 4 true contenders in the West excluding Dame’s Blazers, Brandon Ingram’s Pels, and a 37-year-old Lebron James.

CP3 apologists will cling to any medical sheets that surface in the upcoming days of whatever lower-body injury Chris has been carrying through this series as the reason behind his 3-game collapse. But his health should already be built into the cards when calculating the odds…

Luka too missed time in the playoffs in round 1, but unlike Chris Paul, Dončić’s 23-year-old legs bounce back like a spring made of brand-new stainless steel. Even in Paul’s late 20s, he was already tattooed with the stamp as an undersized injury-prone guard. So, what faith should Robert Sarver’s tight wallet have in a 37-year-old CP3, who despite being the best clutch 4th quarter floor general in the association when healthy, has dealt with injuries in his two postseason runs with the Suns? The short answer: none.

At nearly 30 million owed in the upcoming 2022-23 season, will the Phoenix front office find a sellable set of justification for keeping their 6-foot-in-shoes future hall of fame point guard on the roster? Especially when considering the paycheck owed to DeAndre Ayton and his looming restricted free agency, how will this notoriously cheap owner decide to spend his millions?

If history serves us as any aid towards predicting the future, these last two playoffs by Paul have been anomalies. No player under 6”5 has ever been a top 10 player past 35 years of age…so why would we assume next May at 38 an injury-prone guard dependent on getting to his spots in the paint will outplay the version of himself we all just witnessed?

In an article back in July, while the Suns were still in the Finals against Milwaukee, I prescribed a sign and trade for Phoenix, selling high on Paul after his epic playoff performance (CP3-3-Year-Extension-Suns-Sign-Trade). Luckily for the Suns, the backend of Paul’s contract is non-guaranteed, and he may still have as much value on the trade market as he did last offseason. But instead of being fixated on shaving off the top on an Ayton max contract, priority number one should be maximizing a Chris Paul exchange this summer.


Instead of clinging to the dying legs of a fading late 30s star, Phoenix raids the sinking ship in Brooklyn, buying low on Simmons. The two assets couldn’t be more different when calculating their value. CP3, the ultimate competitor who is the culture setter in the Valley is sent to New York for a 25-year-old prima donna who as of late would rather forfeit his salary than play minutes in an arena that no longer loves him. But who else is only 25 years old? He is the best player on the Suns, Devon Booker.

A starting five of 1.) Booker, 2.) Bridges, 3.) Crowder, 4.) Simmons, 5.) Ayton, not only sounds like one of the most elite defensive lineups in all of basketball, the combination of Booker’s ability to play off-ball and Ayton’s pure stroke from anywhere inside the arc may create a perfect fit for Simmons’ absence of a jumper. We have also seen when given proper offensive opportunities, Mikal Bridges should be averaging near 20 per. It is also not hard to imagine a 5 out lineup with Simmons playing point center, inserting sniper Cam Johnson in the place of Ayton.

The Suns must match whatever offer is given to Ayton this season in restricted free agency even if that offer sheet is a max. They still have the majority of their draft capital and in this situation, they would collect more assets in a Simmons deal. If at the deadline, they find that they can substitute the Ayton minutes with a small ball lineup and/or a collection of 7-footers by committee at the 5, Ayton will surely have supreme value on the trade market on a long-term deal at 23 years old. They also would have the draft capital to sweeten the deal if the player on the other end has more value than Ayton.


The Brooklyn Nets should be willing to take a gamble on CP3 since their window is significantly smaller. They also have shown a complete disregard for their future assets as they have tied their ship to the shoulders of the KD + Kyrie tandem. Adding Paul as a pure point guard and sliding Kyrie to his true position at the 2 would be a fair more suitable big 3 than their previous rendition that had Harden’s defensive limitations built into the equation.


And it should be understood for Suns fans who wish to simply run it back next season and have Sarver spend deep into the luxury tax with the same roster, is that CP3 is a gamble. He was this year and to be fair, it, for the most part, paid off…but not when it mattered most. Next season, the odds of his health and athleticism not betraying him only becomes more dangerous for the house of Phoenix. So, despite how damaged the value is on the Simmons asset, in my opinion, it is a more sound gamble than waiting for the wheels to come off of the aging Point God.





Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skip to toolbar