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James Jones: Suns don’t plan to break up Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal trio

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At this current stage, the Suns don’t plan to part with Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal or Devin Booker, per general manager James Jones. (Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)

James Jones: Suns don’t plan to break up Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal trio

Even though the Phoenix Suns were swept in the first round of the 2023-24 NBA Playoffs by the Minnesota Timberwolves after an underwhelming 49-33 campaign, general manager James Jones is steadfast on keeping the Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal trio together.

“Those guys aren’t going anywhere, those guys are part of the solution, they’re part of the answer,” Jones said on Burns and Gumbo, according to Arizona Sports’ Nick Borgia. “We acquired Kevin and Brad to play with Devin for a reason. Knowing who they are, Olympic athletes, team guys, that if we put those three competitive guys together … we’d be able to compete for championships.”

Phoenix acquired Beal, who had a no-trade clause, from the Washington Wizards mere months after taking a swing on Durant ahead of the 2023 trade deadline. The Suns currently lead the NBA in cap allocations ($207.1M), $28.4 million above the onerous first apron and $17.6 million over the more onerous second apron.

I’ve previously laid out the crazy roster-building restrictions by being above the second apron. But in relation to trading either of the aforementioned trio, Phoenix would not be able to aggregate salaries in a trade, take back more salary than it sends out or add any cash in trades to send out in a trade.

Outside of its No. 23 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, Phoenix can’t sign any outside free agents for above the minimum salary. It could opt to sign free agent Royce O’Neale to any amount up to the max using his bird rights–the only player it owns such rights to.

“Like all teams, you can’t win with three players,” Jones said. “It’s the rest of our team, our guys four through 15. They are going to be the ones that move the needle for us, because we know what Devin and Kevin and Brad can do by themselves. What can we do collectively with them and the rest of the team? That’s what we’re searching for right now.”

Jones won’t publicly admit to trading either one of his players during an interview. If the right deal steps up to the door, Phoenix should consider it. But while he’s the general manager, Jones isn’t calling the shot–owner Mat Ishbia is. So even if there is an offer that hypothetically appeases Jones, it has to bypass Ishbia.

The Suns will have to nail the draft and free agency if it wants any chance to compete in the Wild Wild West. Given the circumstances, it’s going to be far easier said than done; you need depth and balance, neither of which the Suns have in this current state.

“We have to strike a balance. But I’m open to adapt,” Jones said. “We have to be, because the NBA is forever changing. But I do know having Devin, Kevin and Brad gives us and affords us a lot of flexibility to be patient with the guys on the back end of the roster.”

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