On Wednesday, the Phoenix Suns made some player moves, re-signing Saban Lee and waiving Duane Washington Jr in a difficult move that made sense for the club.
On the surface, there are probably more similarities than differences between Lee and Washington, and it is just unfortunate that the numbers meant one had to go. However, in looking at this team and what it needs right now, keeping Lee over Washington was the right move, and there are three reasons.
Washington and Lee are similar players the Suns needed
Washington and Lee are both 6’2″ point guards looking to make it in the NBA. Washington (22) has been in the league for a year, spending most of last season with Indiana after going undrafted out of Ohio State. Lee (23) has one more year of experience and was initially drafted in the second round in 2020 by Detroit after leaving Vanderbilt.
Before the season, Washington was providing deep cover for the Suns’ bench, and Lee may or may not have been on the radar of the President of Basketball Operations and GM James Jones. Of course, we all know the injury issues that have plagued the Suns all season, including at the point guard position.
Chris Paul has missed 21 games this season with various leg issues, including a foot ailment that had him out for most of December. Cameron Payne has missed even more games than Paul, having sat out 25 this season.
Having played 53 games at this point in the season, the Suns have been without at least one of their top two point guards for over 46 games, or 86% of the season. To say Phoenix needed Washington and Lee is an understatement.
Nevertheless, with Paul back, Payne supposedly returning soon, and Lee hitting the end of his second 10-day contract, something had to be done. Ultimately, Jones and Phoenix kept Lee over Washington for several basketball reasons.