Howard-Cooper: Phoenix Suns looking to package 2014 picks to win now

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

After just 21 games, the Phoenix Suns look like a team that is here to stay. But why just stand pat? According to NBA.com, the Suns are looking to upgrade now.

According to Scott Howard-Cooper, the Suns are ready to make a move to solidify their playoff chances now, and speed up (or even end) the rebuilding process just when it got started -- and faster than most teams have ever rebuilt once they put their minds to it.

The Suns, obviously encouraged by a promising start and with several attractive assets at their disposal, are making it known around the league they are open to trading one or more picks in the loaded 2014 draft if they can get an established star capable of making an impact now, NBA.com has learned.

"I think one of the things that's important for people to realize is that we may not draft four players even if we have four picks," McDonough told NBA.com. "Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We're obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. That's kind of generally what we've wanted to do, not only with our draft-pick situation but also with the cap space that we've acquired."

The Suns are clearly playing at a sustainable level even standing pat, which might snag one of the last playoff spots or barely miss out if it takes 48+ wins and they come up just short.

The current team still doesn't have a transcendent player so often needed to win once you get to the playoffs.

And if you're in the middle in the NBA, you're in the worst position.

It no longer seems probable that the Suns will end up with a top-5 pick in the vaunted 2014 Draft. Certainly, there are potential franchise-changers in there, but there also might be a franchise changer at any point in the top half of the Draft. The chances are smaller, but it's happened before.

Nay, the Suns are looking for a franchise changer right now, according to NBA.com.

But who? And at what price?

I really, really, really hope that answer isn't Carmelo Anthony. His game is the antithesis of the current Suns. He shoots midrange shots, doesn't play team ball and doesn't play defense. I suppose the right coach can ride Anthony deep into a playoff run, as George Karl did in Denver. But it's more likely that Anthony's diva personality would drive a wedge into what Jeff Hornacek has been building here in Phoenix. Please don't, Ryan McD!

What about another 2010 Draftee whose team doesn't want to give them a max contract? Of course, by that definition it's not likely that's a franchise savior. But if Gordon Hayward or Greg Monroe were available, you'd think the Suns would work really hard to acquire them before the February trade deadline to allow the Suns to have the upper hand in negotiations.

Recap of Suns assets:

  • Every one of their own first round picks going forward, could be high but likely middling
  • Protected picks from Minny and Wash, likely 2014 or 2015 in the teens (none can be less than 13, 10 and 14, respectively)
  • Protected pick from LA Lakers, likely 2015 or 2016 top 10 (only top 5 protected in 2015, top 3 in 2016)
  • Young starting-quality center (Miles Plumlee)
  • Young potential All-Star PG (Eric Bledsoe)
  • Very young high-ceiling prospects at C (Alex Len) and SG (Archie Goodwin)
  • Veteran difference-making shooter (Channing Frye), SF (P.J. Tucker) and PG (Goran Dragic)

The Suns could use some of that booty to acquire a guy in the near future to make a run at the 2013-14 playoffs.

Or, they could holster their gun and wait until the summer and use their max-level free agent money to sign someone outright.

Maybe LeBron James would like to join his buddy Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix, and make everything easier for the Suns?

Is there really a chance that LeBron James would sign with the Suns to fill the only real hole on the roster - a superstar SF/PF to carry the team through the playoffs? Very unlikely.

Or, Kevin Love? That would only happen if Minny flails again and is ready to start over. This acquisition would probably be by trade, to let the Wolves rebuild quickly. The Suns certainly have the assets, if Minny wants to move him.

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