What realistic trade scenario can make the Suns better this year and the future? I may have an answer.

Last time, I proposed a trade for how the Suns could accelerate a rebuild. To be honest, reflecting upon that post now, it is much more fun to propose ways of making this team better. I am officially all on board with the Suns playoff hopes. I am also a huge fan of the job McD and Hornacek have done with this team. I think the groundwork is there for sustainable success and the pieces to get better in the near future.

With the news that McD may be looking to make some deals at the trade dealine, I started to think what kind of a player we can use. Some people like to think in terms of a Madden/2K mentality such as:'

"DUUUUUDE, let's go Melo from the Knicks!!!"

Count me as one of the many on this forum that would hate that. This team has proven that "player ratings" are what they are: opinions. They mean nothing on the court if you don't have a good game plan and system to utilize them (see Brooklyn Nets, NY Knicks, Bucks).

IMO, this team is missing 2 main things:

1) Dynamic wing creator.

This is someone who can get his shot up over anyone, drive to the basket, possibly post-up and play lock down defense. Examples are Paul George, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Andrew Wiggins. Those are usually really hard to come by. You can settle and get guys like DeMar Derozan and Rudy Gay but they all have their fatal flaws.

2) Commanding pick-n-roll man.

A guy like Amar'e. A guy who can take off pressure from your guards or even feed off their play. A release valve for the defense that makes all your shooters better. I don't need to lecture this fan base on the pick-n-roll. They've witness the clinic for years.

I also like realistic trade scenarios. I do not see Kevin Love or LeBron James coming to Phoenix anytime soon. So how can we get better now without breaking the bank or harming our future (heck, maybe even help it)?


Amir Johnson

Just another role player, right? Why bother getting a guy who's been on Toronto for plenty of losing seasons and made little difference, right?

What if I told you he is at a respectable 40th in the league in win shares this year and 31st since his contract extension?

What if I told you that he is one of the best screen setters in the NBA? (Screen setters are like offensive linemen in football, you need good ones to have your other players look good)

What if I told you he is one MEAN finisher in the pick n roll?

What if told you he is only 26?

What if I told you he is currently 6th in True Shooting Percentage?


What if I told you he excels in offensive rebounding, transition, pick-n-roll (yes please!)


*note: the above images were taken from here. As noted here, his pick n roll number are probably even better since they combine it with pick n pop.

What if I told you he is a certified Laker killer?

What if I told you he has an offensive rating of 16th best in the league (above Goran Dragic and other notables)

What if I told you their fans want to trade him for a top-10 pick (what fanbase doesn't always want a top 10 pick?)

What if I told you he is due only the remainder of his 6.5 million sallary this year and 7 million next year?

What if I told you Toronto is have a going out of business sale on all their players that the previous regime had?

What if I told you the Suns have multiple first round picks and a GM who says he wants to make a deal?


Amir is no Amar'e. For me, he will be the Hakim Warrick we all hoped for (remember when he was gonna be Amar'e lite? not Amar'e Zero). Perhaps he can even be Amir'e. However, he's got some qualities like STAT. He is an athletic finisher and has a good all around offense game. Unlike Amar'e, His jump shot looks pretty ugly (although it could be worse, he can shoot FTs), he's a decent defender (Amar'e was never consistently good at that) and good offensive rebounder (I am done bashing Amar'e, I promise). He is a guy that won't be making plays on his own. He will have 2 dynamic PGs to help him out. He will also have Channing Frye to space the floor for him.

That's right. In this scenario, he will be a starter. For me, this is the rotation (very rough, consider we like to mix-n-match):

Starters: Dragic-Bledsoe-Tucker-Johnson-Frye

Bench: Bled/Dragon-Archie-Green-Mook-Kieff-Plumlee

The vision is to to have the ultimate floor spacing lineup with guys who can

a) shoot 3s (Bledsoe, Dragic, Tucker, Frye)

b) attack the rim (Bledsoe, Dragic, Johnson)

c) transition

d) defend

This move goes with the trend of getting smaller and getting faster. Although McD seems to have an interest in traditional bigs (Plumlee and drafting Len top 5), I think there would be enormous interest in having a guy that can attack the rim with ferocity and take pressure off of Dragic/Bledsoe.One thing that this team will need to be able to answer is that once you take away Dragic/Bledsoe, what will you do? Adding in a presence like Johnson can help take some pressure off of them by giving them a respectable roll man. Also, his great screen setting ability will help them avoid some of the defensive pressure that a lot of guards have to deal with on pick-n-roll.

There are some defensive concerns possibly moving Frye to center as he is not the shot-blocker that Plumlee is. I still see Plumlee playing plenty of minutes but it may not be worth it if there is a drop off.

To my eye, and I don't have the stats to back this up (Jacob or someone help), Plumlee has not looked that good in the pick-n-roll game. He has had some nice dunks and caught some nice lobs but his screen setting and decision making are not what you want. He is still a young player with lack of experience but Amir Johnson is a ready made weapon to use now. His screen setting ability will allow for cutters like Tucker and Goodwin to open up, get Dragic and Bledsoe penetrating ability and obviously his talent for finishing.



There are probably a few different ways you could do this but I could see this one.

Slava Kravtsov+ Minnesota 1st round pick (or Wizards) for Amir Johnson.



Please try and read these articles before you bash the idea:

More on Amir: His excellent offensive game (with video!)

Meet Amir Johnson, the NBA's meanest screen setter

A Closer Look: Amir Johnson


Other guys I would take a look at:

Ed Davis (I like him less than Amir Johnson but he is young). You may remember him from this beatdown.

Earl Barron

Gordon Hayward (I doubt we have a shot at him but you never know)

Robin Lopez

Terrence Jones (a really good young talent from Houston-possibly part of an Asik trade?)

Taylor Griffin

Luol Deng (possibly part of an Okafor swap in some fashion (in a tank move for Bulls) with a Pacers 1st rounder).

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