For many Suns fans, this draft will prove to be the most exciting moment of the team's historically-bad season. What happens on that day will play a significant part in shaping the direction of this franchise. For the first time in 26 years, your Phoenix Suns will have a top 5 draft pick.
There are several possibilities here: moving up from the 5th spot, moving up from the 30th spot, pursuing additional first rounders, trading down, trading out of the draft entirely, etc. To limit the scope of this post (not to mention the dozens of possible scenarios - mostly bad - that exist if we want to trade down from #5), we will focus on two possibilities: moving up in the draft and acquiring additional picks/assets via our players.
Keep in mind that everything here is purely speculation based on news, rumors, and my desire to play armchair GM. I don't endorse all of the trades below; I just
have a lot of time on my hands consider them possibilities worthy of exploration.
Opportunities to move up from the 5th spot will naturally be more limited for the Suns than moving down, since there are only 4 teams ahead of them and all looking to improve their lottery-level rosters. However, if there’s any draft that a team with a top-4 pick might look to trade out of, it’s this one. Devoid of a clear top-flight talent, the 2013 draft has spurred many rumors about potential trades for the top picks.
The Magic have the #2 pick but there are rumors of their interest in drafting point guard Trey Burke, who is slated to go anywhere from 5-10. Orlando also has a number of large contracts (Turkoglu, Nelson, Harrington, Big Baby) that they could be interested in moving, making them a very feasible trade partner for the Suns:
If Orlando is indeed infatuated with building around Trey Burke, this trade makes a lot of sense for them. They get rid of Harrington, who will be making $7+ million for two more seasons and still have the ability to take their man at the #5 spot.
This trade only makes sense for Phoenix if McDonough is absolutely in love with someone in the 2-4 range…you guys have any hopes for who that may be? By taking on Harrington’s contract (which expires in 2015), we’d be limiting our cap flexibility this year and next (barring a buyout) so I’m not sure it’s worth it.
Another possibility is bringing Hedo Turkoglu back to the desert (I know this is very exciting, as I'm sure many of you guys are fans of Hedo's "ball"-playing abilities) for one more year ($12 million expiring after this season) instead of Harrington. This would be a better option for the Suns’ cap flexibility, but would require more creativity in getting Orlando to take back one of our players to make the salaries work, which I’m not sure they’d be inclined to do.
The Wizards currently are in a peculiar, yet enviable state. After beginning last season with an abysmal 5-28 record, they were a .500 team through the rest of the season once star point guard John Wall returned. With Wall and Bradley Beal (last year’s 3rd overall pick), the Wizards have a very promising and exciting backcourt and arguably have the talent to be a playoff team next season. They future turned even brighter when they jumped from the 8th spot to secure the #3 overall pick in this year’s draft. However, there are rumors that the Wizards could be interested in trading their pick for established talent in hopes of making the playoffs next year.
I can only see something like this being a possibility if Cleveland takes Otto Porter with the #1 pick and Orlando nabs Nerlens Noel. In that case, Washington could do this deal to trade two spots (to take Bennett), rid itself of Emeka Okafor’s contract, get an additional prospect with the #30 pick, and acquire a solid big man to stretch the floor for them (something they desperately needed last season) in Frye.
Phoenix would do this trade to take Oladipo or McLemore (given the above scenario) at the #3 spot. Okafor only has one more year on his egregious contract, which is perfectly in tune with the Suns’ plans to retain flexibility for the 2014 offseason.
Perennial losers on the court and in the draft, the Bobcats once again lost the lottery, leaving them with the 4th overall pick in this year’s draft. Destined to be a player in the lottery again next season (as are the Suns), Charlotte could make for an intriguing partner if the Suns felt inclined to move up one spot in the draft:
If the Bobcats for some reason don’t like who’s available to them at #4 on draft day (projected to be Victor Oladipo – hopefully the great talent evaluator in Michael Jordan doesn’t like VO), they could be interested in trading down a spot or two. With this trade, they rid themselves of Tyrus Thomas (making $9 million a year for two more seasons), replace him with a slightly cheaper Beasley (making $6million a year for two more seasons), and can still draft Bennett with the 5th pick.
Once again, Phoenix only makes this trade if they really like someone available at #4 (whether that be ‘Dipo, McLemore, or Porter). This trade is very similar to the Orlando one above – taking on Thomas’ contract hurts cap flexibility next year. However, getting rid of Beasley eases the pain a bit and makes it easier to swallow.
Although this draft lacks clear-cut franchise talent, it’s considered to be deep in potential NBA rotation players. Therefore, the possibilities of teams wanting to move around are aplenty.
There are dozens of rumors about Portland's interest in trading their pick for an established center
to fall under the Portland big man curse and lose his knees. Fans of both the Suns and the Trail Blazers have often discussed a deal centered around sending Marcin Gortat to Portland for their #10 pick.
Phoenix trades Marcin Gortat for #10 pick + Joel Freeland
This trade is simple - it gets Portland the player it wants to round out their solid starting five.
For Phoenix, it's all about cashing in on Gortat's value right away (it's already way lower than it was last offseason). Freeland is basically deadweight salary and may or may not be waived. It could also be possible to talk Portland into giving us Myers Leonard as well, especially if we send out #30 pick their way. For a more complicated version of this trade, keep reading.
The Thunder have one major flaw - the Center position. I've always been of the opinion that Kendrick Perkins is highly overrated, and this postseason seriously exposed how much of a liability he is. He actually registered a NEGATIVE PER in the playoffs. Wow. With that in mind, OKC could be very interested in upgrading the 5 spot. Here are two possible trades that could interest both Phoenix and OKC:
- Phoenix trades Marcin Gortat for #12 pick + Kendrick Perkins
- Phoenix trades Marcin Gortat + Jared Dudley for #12 pick + Kendrick Perkins + Jeremy Lamb
With both of these trades, the Thunder upgrade their five spot with Gortat. In the second trade, they would also get a great bench player in Jared Dudley (who they could replace Kevin Martin - who's a free agent - with, or play him next to Martin off the bench).
For the Suns, these trades would once again be entirely about cashing in their assets for draft picks/youth to continue the rebuild. Obviously, this comes with a price - taking on Perkins' contract ($8 million and $9 million for the next two seasons). However, a trade with OKC would pretty much guarantee taking Perkins off their hands in order to receive their draft pick and/or young prospect Jeremy Lamb (who many Suns fans wanted in last year's draft). This trade would be much better for Phoenix if we could convince the Thunder to give us Lamb for our #30 pick instead of Dudley in the second trade above.
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Mavericks are rumored to be very interested in selling their first round pick (#13 overall) in order to preserve cap room to make a run at free agents Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Let's ignore the face that this is a pretty short-sighted tactic by Mark Cuban (Suns fans know the pain that comes from selling draft picks) and figure out a way the Suns can get in on the action.
Phoenix trades #57 pick + Shannon Brown for #13 pick + Shawn Marion
Not only would the Mavs achieve their goal in getting rid of their #13 pick (which would provide guaranteed money to a rookie), but they'd save about $6 million in cap space with this trade. Trading away Shawn Marion for Shannon Brown would work financially for both teams and would give Cuban's Mavs even more flexibility in their free agent pursuits. Let's just agree to not remind them how well that worked for them last year when they were trying to get Deron Williams and Dwight Howard...
Suns fans, welcome "The Matrix" back to the desert. Actually...maybe not so fast. Marion has publicly expressed his unwillingness to play for a non-contender, which Phoenix definitely projects to be next year. With that in mind, we could probably buy out his contract. If he does change his mind however, we'd get an overpaid yet serviceable SF (and a fan favorite) for the next two years. Once again, this is all for that pick.
The Boston Celtics are at a bit of a crossroads right now. They're rumored to be leaning towards buying out Paul Pierce, which they would almost definitely follow with a trade of Kevin Garnett (or he might retire). Last season, there were news sources around the trade deadline reporting a possible Gortat-to-Boston deal. Boston hasn't had a real center for 2+ seasons now, so the rumors make sense.
If Boston does indeed get rid of Pierce and Garnett, they would have pretty much no reason to keep veteran Terry on the roster. Dumping him, along with their 16th overall pick and Melo for Gortat makes sense for their plans to reshape their team.
For Phoenix, this trade doesn't look too great. It seems to undervalue Gortat's trade value and only nets the Suns a mid-first round pick, an unproven prospect big man in Melo, and an annoying punk that no one likes in Terry (I'm sure he'd love to come to Phoenix, though). If we could get Bradley or Sullinger out of this deal, it'd be a whole lot sweeter but I'm not sure Boston would part with either.
The Utah Jazz could also be at a crossroads this offseason. They two best players, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, are free agents and with promising young Derrick Favors already on their roster, the Jazz will likely let one or both go. Their biggest roster need is at the point guard spot. This trade has absolutely no basis or substance, but why the hell not:
Phoenix trades Kendall Marshall for #21 pick
The Jazz have two picks in the first round, at 14 and 21. If they don't get a point guard they like at the 14th spot (Carter-Williams or Schoeder), they could be interested in taking on Marshall as sort of a project. At the least, they could run him at the backup PG spot to see how he develops.
Although Marshall made some strides in the latter half of last season and showed some promise, I would definitely not mind trading him for a first round pick in the draft. With McDonough's penchant for making strong draft choices in the late first round, I would totally support exchanging Marshall for the #21 pick.
Bonus Wild Card Trade
The Pelicans are clearly in rebuilding mode, headed by last year's #1 pick, Anthony Davis. The Brow had a solid (and underrated) rookie campaign, but the team didn't fare too well, leading the the 6th pick in this year's draft. The Hornets have one major trade asset in addition to the 6th pick: Eric Gordon. Gordon signing an offer sheet with (and publicly declaring his love for) the Suns only to be forced to stay in New Orleans is still fresh in many peoples' memories. With that in mind, here's a possible three-team trade between Phoenix, New Orleans, and Portland:
- Phoenix trades #30 pick + Marcin Gortat + Jared Dudley + Michael Beasley for Eric Gordon + Joel Freeland
- N.O. trades Eric Gordon for #10 pick (from Portland) + #40 (from Portland) + Wesley Matthews + Michael Beasley
- Portland trades #10 pick + #40 pick + Wesley Matthews + Joel Freeland for #30 pick (from Phoenix) + Marcin Gortat + Jared Dudley
For The Pelicans, this move is all about trading their disgruntled star shooting guard and continuing the rebuild. They get a lottery pick (from Portland), an early second-rounder, a solid starting SG to replace Gordon with in Matthews, and they get to be the next team to take on the Michael Beasley experiment (LOL). They now have the 6th and 10th picks in the draft (along with the 40th) to continue their rebuild with. They could potentially draft both Trey Burke and Alex Len.
For Portland, this trade is a more complicated version of the other Gortat -for-#10 trade mentioned above. With this trade, they still get their target in Gortat, a reasonable replacement for Matthews in Dudley (who's on a very valuable contract), and a late first round pick to use on a more prototypical SG.
Phoenix makes this trade to cash in on two of their more valuable assets: Gortat and Dudley. They get an All-Star caliber backcourt-mate for Dragic and still get to use their #5 pick in this draft. The addition by subtraction of Michael Beasley is another huge perk. The addition of Freeland is just to make the salaries match.
Have any other trades in mind you'd like to see the Suns make? Prefer them to stay put with what they have? Please share in the comments below!