It’s easy to see why the Suns are pulling the trigger on a deal that would land them proven scorer Bradley Beal. They’re not just forming a super team that allows them to keep pace with the best of the best in the National Basketball Association. They’ll be getting a three-time All-Star capable of lighting up the scoreboard in plenty of different ways, thereby making it even harder for the opposition to contain them. Given that they also have creative forces Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, they aren’t likely to experience significant offensive droughts.
True, the Suns will also be giving up talent to get talent. And, admittedly, the haul they’re handing over is hefty — among them future Hall of Famer Chris Paul and a bevy of draft picks. That said, the 38-year-old point guard is on the downside of a long career. Eighteen years’ worth of toiling in the league has made his body brittle, causing him to miss 52 matches since he joined the Suns prior to the 2020-21 season. And during the times he managed to suit up, his numbers dwindled; whereas he used to bring up his stats in the postseason, he proved less productive in the 2023 Playoffs.
Not that Beal is any more of a strongman. In fact, it can be argued that he’s at least as prone to injury as Paul has been. Since playing in all 164 regular season contests between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns, he has burned rubber in a mere 207 of 328 possible starts due to a variety of ailments. In other words, the Suns are taking a gamble on his increased availability in the face of a lighter workload; no longer does he need to expend as much energy with Durant and Booker also puncturing the hoop with consistency.
Nonetheless, the Suns will come out on top of the deal for landing Beal. Their next step is to ensure that the move translates to lasting gains, which is much easier said than done. With their Big Three on max contracts and Deandre Ayton and Cameron Payne the only other players on the roster, they are hard-pressed to show their capacity to get the most of what remains of their salary cap space. The new collective bargaining agreement further tightens their financial screws, so the onus is on owner Mat Ishbia and general manager James Jones to find depth and balance on the fringes. How they fare in this regard may well determine if their bet pays off, and by how much.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.