Analyst: Suns' Long-Term Future is 'Ugly'

The future isn't exactly optimistic around the Phoenix Suns.
Apr 28, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) leaves the court after game
Apr 28, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) leaves the court after game / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns knew what they were doing.

One year ago, the Suns were still competing in the Western Conference playoffs. Fans were still getting used to Kevin Durant playing in a Suns uniform, and though change was still seen under new owner Mat Ishbia, Phoenix was about to redefine what it meant to go "all in" on a championship push.

Now, the dust has settled on the Suns' most recent postseason outing - a clean 4-0 sweep courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves - and seemingly everybody is wondering what's next for Phoenix.

"All he’s done since then is trade four unprotected first-round picks, four unprotected pick swaps, three swaps of the swaps and nine second-round picks, all in an effort to turn a second-tier contender into a champion. Other than Booker, the only roster player left from when Ishbia took over is Josh Okogie," wrote The Athletic's John Hollinger on Ishbia.

"Let’s just say it didn’t go as hoped. The Suns used every available asset at their disposal and went $25 million into the luxury tax, and in the savage West, their reward was zero playoff wins. Building around a Booker-Bridges-Ayton-Johnson core and some depth guys wasn’t likely to yield championship parades — but it wasn’t going to lead to this either. Phoenix is screwed, a non-contender that might not even make the playoffs in next year’s loaded West, but one with no chance to rebuild effectively until the 2030s. The 2030s."

The Suns are now severely restricted financially thanks to their positioning in the second apron of the luxury tax with no real wiggle room besides dealing the likes of Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal or Devin Booker.

Trading Durant has been a popular topic of discussion to this point, and after going through that scenario on his own, Hollinger concluded with this:

"Setting that scenario aside, it gets pretty dull, pretty quickly. A more realistic Suns’ offseason endgame might just be morosely doubling down on this losing bet and hoping to scratch out 40-something wins; the problem in the NBA is that star players start looking for the exits when they sniff the rank odor of long-term decline seeping in. The Suns will actually have even more first-round picks to trade (they can send out a 2031 first and the 22nd pick in the 2024 draft), but the difficulty of matching salary could make it hard to convert, say, Nassir Little or David Roddy into anything consequential," Hollinger wrote.

"The Suns can at least take solace in the fact that Booker is just starting a four-year extension and seems to like Phoenix; the team has a floor as long as he’s around, and there’s enough high-end talent to maybe ride the treadmill to another middling playoff seed again. But the long term here is ugly, and even the short term seems only mildly interesting."

You won't find many who disagree, though Ishbia was adamant the "house isn't on fire" - you can read more about that here.

Donnie Druin


Donnie Druin is the Publisher for All Cardinals and Inside The Suns. Donnie moved to Arizona in 2012 and has been with Fan Nation since 2018. In college he won "Best Sports Column" in the state of Arizona for his section and has previously provided coverage for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin for more news, updates, analysis and more!