The Suns were close to winning the 2021 NBA Championship. After starting the series 2-0 against the Bucks, they dropped four straight games. Still, it was one hell of a title run for Phoenix—given that it’s their first NBA Finals appearance in 28 years.
Suns offseason preview 2021
The Suns offseason will focus mainly on retaining their current lineup. They should definitely run it back and bolster their roster with some key additions.
Let’s take a look at the four moves Phoenix should make in the offseason…
Make Paul stay in the Valley
It makes zero sense for Phoenix not to extend Chris Paul’s contract.
His impact on winning is well-documented both in statistics and the eye test. Without him, the Suns would be a borderline playoff team with slim chances of getting to the NBA Finals. After all, Paul ranked ninth in RPM Wins—an estimated number of wins a player has contributed. We witnessed this before as he transformed lottery teams into playoff-caliber teams.
Phoenix can extend his contract and offer up to $70 million for two years. This will give them ample time to be competitive while Paul still has a lot left in his tank. As long as Paul plays great (and barring any major injury), the Suns are a championship contender.
Extending Paul’s contract should be a no-brainer in the Suns offseason. However, the decision is still ultimately up to him whether or not he should exercise his player option.
Cameron Payne proved to everyone that he still belongs in the NBA. After his short stint in China and the G-League, he signed with the Suns as a backup point guard for Paul. Since then, he exceeded expectations and stepped up in moments when CP3 was out. He averaged 9.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in the playoffs.
Re-signing him would give the Suns a solid backup point guard. In an unlikely scenario that Paul opts out of his player option, having Payne as a starter makes sense as well. He’s basically insurance should CP3 decide to leave.
Payne is one of the best comeback players in the NBA. Re-signing him should be a priority in the Suns offseason.
Extend Bridges and Ayton’s contract
Mikal Bridges has been the epitome of a 3 and D player. At 6’6″, he can guard multiple positions with his long arms and quickness. But he’s more than just a lockdown defender now, he is now developing as a scoring threat outside of Paul, Booker, and Ayton. He deserves to get paid after his stellar performance both in the regular and postseason. This season, Bridges averaged 13.5 points and 4.3 rebounds with .54/.43/.84 shooting splits.
Meanwhile, Deandre Ayton was pretty much consistent as a double-double threat. While there’s still a lot to improve in his game, it makes sense to invest in Ayton as early as now to lock him as the Suns’ franchise center. His production may have dipped due to the Suns having many scoring options and team-first offense, but he is still one of the most consistent centers out there. In the playoffs, Ayton showed up big time as he averaged 16 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.
As you can see, these two outperformed their roles this season. It makes perfect sense to secure them as the Suns’ major pillars for years to come.
Explore the free agent market
The Suns have enough cap space to bolster their lineup further. What they need is a solid backup center that can provide rebounding and rim protection. After all, Dario Saric suffered a season-ending ACL injury—which means he’ll potentially miss a significant amount of time until next season. Frank Kaminsky is a non-factor as well.