The Phoenix Suns are riding their most significant offseason in recent years. With the acquisition of a 10-time All-Star in Chris Paul, the Suns have launched themselves into serious contention for a playoff spot in the stacked Western Conference.
Paul joins the young star duo of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, arguably giving Phoenix a potential Big 3 if the experiment works out. Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson could round up the Suns’ starting five, but there’s still the sense that the team needs more tough, seasoned veteran presence in their roster.
That need could be filled in by a proven defender who could also serve as the Suns’ glue guy. Looking at their current roster depth, the Suns still lack that hard-nosed, proven player who can body up to the opposing team’s best wing player. Here are four defensive-minded forwards that the Suns can sign for an affordable price in free agency.
The bloated four-year, $48 million contract that Solomon Hill signed with the New Orleans Pelicans is finally up. He won’t be getting a payday close to that this offseason, but Hill is still a quality 3-and-D role player. He averaged 18.4 minutes while playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Miami Heat last season, and produced 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, including a decent 37% clip from the three-point line.
His inability to stay healthy throughout a season is a weakness, but Hill’s versatility on both ends of the floor is a proven commodity.
Thabo Sefolosha wasn’t able to play for the Houston Rockets in the NBA bubble, but that shouldn’t diminish his value as a lockdown defender. Sefolosha’s three-point shooting was a bit shaky last year, but he showed promise during the 2018-19 season when he normed a stellar 43% from beyond the arc.
But it’s Sefolosha’s credentials as a known defender that should be his trump card in free agency. He has excellent instincts and quick mobility to go with his 6-foot-7 frame, allowing him to defend all guard and forward positions.
After a disappointing brief stint in San Antonio that led to the Spurs buying him out, the Rockets brought in DeMarre Carroll to be a trusted defender in the two forward positions. However, Carroll would only appear in nine games for the Rockets, averaging only 17.2 minutes per contest.
Coming off a forgettable year, Carroll’s value in free agency will understandably decrease. The Suns should pounce on this opportunity, and nab Carroll’s services at a cheap price. He is arguably the most consistent shooter on this list, and the grit and intangibles he brings to the table will be much-welcomed in Phoenix.
Kent Bazemore could be the most interesting pick-up for the Suns here. Aside from being a dependable defender, the lefty combo wing can also serve as an underrated shot creator for the Suns’ second unit. After being traded to the Sacramento Kings mid-way through last season, Bazemore’s production increased to 10.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in just 23.1 minutes per contest.
Phoenix only has Cameron Payne and Elie Okobo under contract in their bench’s backcourt depth heading into the season. If Bazemore could accept a lesser payday for the chance to increase his value and play a sixth man role, it would be a huge addition to the Suns.