Millsap/Bell For Lopez/Warrick/Pietrus?

It's only my own speculation, which is all I've got since the Suns are completely silent on the FA front except for Grant Hill.

But at least we've learned a couple things so far:

1) Suns really want a 39-year old Small Forward to start for a non-playoff team

2) Given #1, it's obvious that the Suns are intent on keeping their 37-year old PG as well

3) Given #1 and #2, you can surmise that the Suns would like to make a playoff run without sacrificing long-term cash flow to do it (unless a young, healthy star falls in their lap)

4) Suns are going nowhere without a little more scoring from their Shooting Guard position

5) Due to salary cap restrictions, the most the Suns can offer any one player in free agency is $5 million in year 1

Given those assumptions, any transactions made by the Suns this month would be on 1 or 2-year deals (ruling out marginal guys like Shannon Brown and Marcus Thornton) of $5 million or less per year (ruling out guys like Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Nick Young and Arron Afflalo).

So what's left? How will the Suns attempt to become relevant this season while keeping Nash and Hill?


And there's one trade that came to me this morning that just might work for both sides (big leap, I know).

Utah trades Paul Millsap and Raja Bell to the Suns for Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick and Mickael Pietrus.

Millsap is a good player and Lopez/Pietrus and Warrick are not! Why would Utah do this?

Money. Millsap and Bell are still owed money for 2 more seasons, and they are a collective $11 million roadblock in front of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Gordon Haywood. Utah already hit their reset button when they traded Deron Williams away last spring. Now they've dived headfirst into rebuilding, and guys like Millsap and Bell are just in the way.

Utah needs to clear cap space, and Lopez (unless he outplays his contract) and Pietrus come off the books next summer. Warrick is basically a wash with Bell contract-wise (both are guaranteed 2 more seasons, with Warrick 1 million higher), and provides younger insurance against front-court injury.

This trade opens the door for youth, and nets $7 million in new cap space next summer for the Jazz to pair a talented veteran with all that youth.

Millsap and Bell are on 2-year contracts, and Bell is old as dirt. This move would sacrifice half the potential cap space next summer. Why would the Suns make this trade?

Millsap and Bell make $11 million in 2012-13 while Warrick would have counted only $4 million next season so that's a $7 million "loss" to the Suns. Plus, that would signal the Suns want at least 1 more season with Nash and Hill as well, probably adding up to $10 million a year between the two of them. That cuts next summer's potential nest egg from $30 in cap space down to only about $13 million. Just enough for 1 max-type player, but not 2. (unless the Suns amnesty Childress - which would get that $7 million back). We would all have to wait for summer 2013 for the reboot, at the earliest.

But if the Suns want to keep relevant with Nash AND keep Mr. Canada happy, then why not bring in more ready-to-play PF talent (Millsap) and an old friend (Bell) who can kinda still defend and shoot 3s the way the Suns want to shoot 3s?

Millsap's presence next to Gortat would keep the Suns competitive on offense and rebounding, and losing Lopez would allow Frye to move back to the middle where he's a mismatch in the Suns' favor against most backup Cs. Pairing Frye on the second unit with defense and rebound-minded Morris would be a nice pair.

Raja Bell would provide stopgap balance to the SG position and likely make Steve Nash very happy in his waning years. They can basically ride off into the sunset together.

This would be the Suns' "we can make the playoffs and scare a few people" plan.

By keeping the sun, moon, stars and BAMF this season, the Suns have already signaled they can't yet stomach even one (or maybe 10) cellar-dwelling years.

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