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Does It Make Sense for Suns to Keep Big 3 Together?

Phoenix Suns’ Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal

The Phoenix Suns entered the offseason with multiple questions after being swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the First Round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

They’ve solved one, hiring Mike Budenholzer to replace Frank Vogel as head coach. This offseason, they have the opportunity to address their longstanding need for a starting point guard. There’s also the question of whether their Big 3 is actually a viable fit. Their overall talent level notwithstanding, there may be too much overlap between them.

However, asked if there was any scenario in which the Suns would break up the Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, Suns general manager James Jones told The Burns & Gambo Show that there wasn’t.

“No… That’s great for TV,” Jones says. “…Those guys aren’t going anywhere. Those guys are going to be a part of the solution. They’re a part of the answer.”

“We acquired Kevin and Brad to play with Devin for a reason,” Jones continues. “Because we felt knowing who they are… that if we put those three competitive guys together with a great team to support a great coach, that we’d be able to compete for championships. That’s still the goal. That’s still the plan…”

Does It Make Sense for Suns to Keep Big 3 Together?

Make no mistake; Durant, Booker, and Beal are an elite combination on offense.

In their first season together, the three-man lineup outscored opponents by +6.7 points per 100 possessions. However, when that trio was bullied by the Minnesota Timberwolves —being outscored by -20.0 points per possession during the sweep —that series spoke to their biggest flaw.

Suffocating under the Wolves’ ball pressure, running a rushed give-and-go offense, Phoenix turned the ball over 54 times. 34 of those turnovers belonged to their Big 3. The Suns’ mighty firepower faltering in ways that seemed unfathomable less than a year ago, it’s now apparent that their three best players aren’t a clean fit.

All better as scorers and none particularly capable of running an offense full-time, Phoenix needs someone to set the table.

The Bradley Beal Conundrum

The easiest way to fix the Suns’ kinks would be to move one of the players in their Big 3. Unfortunately for Phoenix, the player they’d be most willing to trade is the hardest to move.

Beal, who will turn 31 years old this summer, will be on the third season on a five-year contract next season. That should be all well and good, as the three-time All-Star is one of the better players in the NBA. However, due $160 million over the next three seasons, he’s charging a pretty penny for his services.

When Beal signed that five-year, $251 million contract extension with the Washington Wizards in 2022, he had just averaged 30+ points per game in two of the three previous seasons. To put it another way, with Beal performing at such a high level, there was no reason not to sign him to the max.

Yet, it seemed like the Wizards may have been too hasty in their negotiations. Though still playing at a high level, he averaged 23.2 points per game from 2021-2022 to 2022-23. With Washington going 35-47 in both seasons, it seemed like they hit their ceiling with Beal.

Meanwhile, Beal was growing frustrated with the lack of winning and talent around him. In June, he requested a trade from the organization that drafted him third overall in 2012.

Beal to the Heat?

When Beal requested a trade, the place that he wanted to go was the Miami Heat.

This leads to the second issue that may arise if the Suns want to trade him; he has a pesky no-trade clause. There’s nothing wrong with player empowerment, but it does limit the number of Phoenix’s potential trade partners. That being said, while the Heat could still have interest in a Beal trade, the Suns are unlikely to land the player they want in return.

Phoenix would ideally make a trade for Terry Rozier if they were to trade with Miami. A veteran point guard, his scoring instincts, perimeter defense, and pick-and-roll play make him an ideal fit for the Suns. However, Miami needed a point guard nearly as much as Phoenix a few months ago. While Kyle Lowry was able to run the offense, his impact on the scoreboard has severely diminished with age. To that point, while Lowry averaged 8.1 points per game in 2023-24, Rozier averaged 19.8 points per game.

With the possibility that Lowry returns to the Heat as a free agent, Miami may be willing to move Rozier. A starting backcourt featuring Lowry and Beal has solid balance and Tyler Herro can play either wing spot. At worst, the former Sixth Man of the Year would return to the bench.

Beal to the Hawks?

The Atlanta Hawks are a dark horse destination for Beal.

Beal’s both a more natural shooter and shooting guard than Dejounte Murray is, making him the type of player Atlanta has been looking to put beside Trae Young. Averaging 24.8 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game since 2016-17, he’s also capable of matching Murray’s production.

That said, with Beal’s hefty salary, the Hawks could be scared away unless they’re trying to clear up a potential log jam at center. To that point, Clint Capela is owed $22.3 million in 2024-25, the final year of his deal.

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