Charles Barkley will be reunited with his Phoenix Suns teammates from the 1992-93 team that reached the NBA Finals this weekend as they will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game against Indiana at the Footprint Center. .
He recently said the current Suns (21-24) shouldn’t stay intact.
“My Phoenix Suns need to blow it up,” Barkley said on TNT’s ‘Inside The NBA’ earlier this month. “The Suns are not going to win a championship.”
The Hall of Famer initially started a conversation about the teams he thought needed a boom starting with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
“When you look at this season, I have no idea who is going to win the championship,” Barkley said. “There are some teams that are going to have to make some trades.”
At the time, Chicago was 17-21 while Miami was 20-19. The Bulls split their next six games, but the Heat are now 25-21 after Wednesday’s win over New Orleans.
With pen and paper, Kenny Smith asked Barkley if there are any Western Conference teams that should blow up their squads.
Barkley quickly named his Suns.
At the time, Phoenix was 20-19 and was coming off a 90-88 loss at Cleveland to end a six-game season-long road trip. The shorthanded Suns have gone 1-4 since then and were riding a three-game losing streak heading into Thursday night’s game against the Nets.
The Suns are looking to bounce back as Cam Johnson was scheduled to return Thursday after missing 37 games after tearing his right meniscus Nov. 4 against Portland, but they are still down to five players.
- Chris Paul (right hip pain)
- Josh Okogie (broken nose)
- Landry Shamet (pain in right foot)
- Cameron Payne (right foot sprain)
- Devin Booker (left groin strain)
Paul was listed as questionable Wednesday after missing five games with soreness in his right hip. Monty Williams said Paul practiced “flat out” Wednesday, but the All-Star point guard remains out.
Okogie suffered a broken nose Monday against the Grizzlies when he was elbowed by teammate Deandre Ayton, who was fouled on the play by Steven Adams.
Shamet had just returned Monday after missing three games with soreness in his right hip. He now has pain in his right foot.
Booker and Payne are scheduled for reevaluations later this month.
On top of that, the Suns have yet to move Jae Crowder, who hasn’t played in a single game this season as the two sides “mutually agreed” he wouldn’t attend training camp.
They’ve missed him, but the Suns were once 16-7 without Crowder.
If the Suns can be healthy by, say, February 1st and move Crowder by February 1st. The 9 trade deadline for a player who can contribute could not only make a run for playoff contention, but a run deep in the postseason as well.
Once atop the West in early December, the Suns now sit 12th in the conference. They were 12½ games out of first place heading into Thursday’s games, but just 1½ behind sixth-place Golden State.
Phoenix is 3-0 against the defending NBA champion Warriors this season, winning all three games by an average margin of 17.3 points.
The top six playoff teams avoid the play-in tournament to reach the postseason.
Is there still a possibility of a trade for Phoenix?
The Suns have had 16 different starting lineups going into Thursday’s game.
With injuries and a lack of chemistry, Phoenix has yet to figure out how good he can be, but Barkley’s assessment can’t be ruled out either.
They’re not playing well, they don’t have the same lead that fueled their franchise-record 64-win season last year and they have matchup problems against Denver, Memphis, New Orleans and Dallas.
Phoenix doesn’t look like a championship contender, but he may not be in a position to change that with a game-changing trade.
With the team’s interim governor, Sam Garvin, unable to make a major move without Robert Sarver’s approval and the NBA has yet to approve billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia’s purchase of the team from Sarver, the Suns appear to be in a holding pattern that will not allow them to make a colossal trade.
However, Phoenix does have marketable assets if it looks to drastically change its structure starting with Ayton, who has a maximum contract of four years, $133 million.
The Pacers made an offer sheet this summer that the Suns matched. A key component of the agreement is that Ayton can veto any trade for one year. The contract also included a provision preventing the Suns from trading Ayton until January 1. fifteen.
Yahoo’s Jake Fischer reported that Ayton and Pacers great Myles Turner have been on Toronto’s radar. While he’s been inconsistent, especially with Paul and Booker out, and dealing with a nagging left ankle injury, Ayton is a big man who averaged a double-double in his first four seasons, can shoot, is athletic and can grab rebounds.
In exchange, the Suns could get players and picks.
Then there is Paul.
He’s one of the best point guards to ever play the game, but between his age (37) and the injuries, the Suns might look for a younger point guard who can consistently play at a faster pace. Paul has two years left on his four-year, $120 million deal, but the final year of his contract isn’t guaranteed.
Booker is clearly the franchise player. He signed a four-year supermax contract last summer for $224 million that begins in the 2024-25 season.
Mikal Bridges is a two-way player who has yet to miss a game in his NBA career, now in his fifth season, and led the league in total minutes played last season.
After those two, Phoenix could shake up their roster as teams could use a shooter like Johnson, who began the season hitting a career-best 43.1% of his 3-pointers in eight games before suffering the knee injury. .
Johnson is in the final year of his rookie contract. He and the Suns couldn’t agree on a rookie extension last summer, so he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer.
Shamet received a rookie extension and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2026. He’s a player who could be part of a package.
The Suns have several more players who will be unrestricted free agents over the next two seasons, including Cameron Payne after the 2023-24 season.
Dario Saric, Torrey Craig, Bismack Biyombo, Damion Lee and Josh Okogie will all be unrestricted free agents after this season, while Jock Landale will be a restricted free agent.
The roster will change after this season, but right now, Phoenix seems to be waiting to bounce back and run. If the playoffs started today, the Suns wouldn’t even make the play-in, let alone the playoffs.
That’s probably part of Barkley’s idea to exploit his current Phoenix Suns.
Journalism in local media. Start your subscription online.