Suns' 2022 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NBA Playoff Loss

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2022

Suns' 2022 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NBA Playoff Loss

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Phoenix Suns' quest for the franchise's first NBA title came to an end Sunday with a decisive 123-90 loss to Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

    Phoenix entered the 2021-22 season with clear championship expectations and the core quartet of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Chris Paul and Mikal Bridges in place after reaching last year's NBA Finals before falling short against the Milwaukee Bucks.

    The Suns posted the NBA's best record during the regular season at 64-18, which was eight games better than their closest competition (Memphis Grizzlies, 56-26). They proceeded to take the New Orleans Pelicans down in six games in the first round before slowly unraveling against Dallas.

    While the team's championship window should remain wide open heading toward next season, the roster could still look a little different by the time the 2022-23 season tips off.

Suns 2022 Free Agents

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    Restricted Free Agents

    • Deandre Ayton
    • Aaron Holiday
    • Ishmail Wainright

                

    Unrestricted Free Agents

    • JaVale McGee
    • Elfrid Payton
    • Bismack Biyombo

                

    It's hard to imagine a scenario where Ayton doesn't return next season. The Suns will give him a qualifying offer and match any offer sheet handed to him from another team, though handling it themselves with a long-term extension is the easier route.

    Holiday also figures to return after providing some solid depth in the backcourt after being acquired in a February trade with the Washington Wizards.

    All of the unrestricted free agents figure to test the open market but could make their way back to Phoenix depending on the type of offers they receive from elsewhere.

Possible Targets in Free Agency

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    Rusty Jones/Associated Press

    The Suns don't figure to become major players on the open market this summer. Taking care of their own business with Ayton tops the priority list, and they won't have a ton of financial flexibility beyond that unless it comes in the form of a blockbuster trade, which seems unlikely.

    Instead, their focus will likely be on adding a little frontcourt and wing depth. Let's check out a potential target in each of those areas.

                 

    PF Montrezl Harrell

    The 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year is coming off another year of solid two-way production in 2021-22, a season he split between the Wizards and Charlotte Hornets. His ability to make such a significant impact without a high number of offensive touches makes him an ideal fit for Phoenix.

    Harrell could split time with Jae Crowder at power forward and also play some reserve minutes at center if neither McGee nor Biyombo returns.

                

    SF Kyle Anderson

    Like Harrell, Anderson is a free-agent target based on his across-the-board contributions. His role diminished for the Grizzlies this season, but he's only one year removed from averaging 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals.

    The 6'9" UCLA product can play pretty much any position depending on whether the Suns are playing a traditional or small-ball lineup, which adds to his value for a title contender.

2022 NBA Draft Needs

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    The Suns currently don't own any picks in the 2022 NBA draft. They dealt their first-rounder to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the November 2020 trade for Paul and they sent their second-rounder to the Indiana Pacers to acquire reserve forward Torrey Craig in February.

    That doesn't mean the front office won't do its due diligence on this year's prospects, either for a possible trade into the second round or potential undrafted free-agent signings. One player stands out as an intriguing target in that regard.

                

    Jamaree Bouyea, PG, San Francisco

    Given the Suns' roster construction and the lack of a high pick, any rookies they add to the roster will be with the long-term outlook in mind. Someone who could potentially compete with Cameron Payne whenever Paul, 36, vacates the point guard spot fits the mold.

    Bouyea is coming off a senior season with the Dons where he averaged 17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals in 34 appearances. He shot 47.0 percent from the field and averaged 2.1 threes made while shooting 36.7 percent from beyond the arc.

    The 22-year-old California native made steady improvement to his offensive game throughout his five seasons at San Francisco, and getting the opportunity to start his NBA career playing behind the incredibly efficient Paul will only help continue that growth.

    Bouyea is also a quick-twitch defender who should have enough size (6'2", 180 lbs) to guard opposing point guards, though he may not have a ton of defensive versatility.

    All told, he should emerge as a reliable NBA role player with the potential to become a starter with continued development, especially in a successful system like the one in Phoenix.

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