Here are three trades I have been thinking about lately that would get us two great players and 37.7m free cap space in the summer of 2015, and would put is in a great position to compete for a championship from the 2015/2016 season onwards.
Plumlee, Bledsoe in a S&T, #27 pick/draftee for Vucevic
#18 pick/draftee for Boozer, rights to Mirotic. Add 2015 1st from Minny if necessary.
Potential trade #3
Morrii brothers for a quality young player on a rookie contract or a 1st round pick in the 2014 draft. Maybe to Atlanta for the #15 pick.
Potential trade #4
Trade #14 and #15 picks to move up in the draft.
Out: Bledsoe, Plumlee, #18, #27, 2015 1st rounder from Minny (Morrii brothers)
In: Vucevic, Boozer, rights to Mirotic, (1st round pick, hopefully #15)
Explaining each trade:
I've explained some of my reasons why I'd trade Bledsoe in http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2014/4/24/5646614/bledsphemy-trading-eric-bledsoe . Cap-related reasons are even more clear now that it seems that Bosh won't be available as a FA this year, so we can't use our cap space this year (before re-signing Bledsoe) to get a high profile FA this year.
Also, re-signing Bledsoe would tie up our cap space for the forseeable future, all but eliminating our chances of getting any high-profile FAs in the next years FA bonanza (http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9947573/nba-free-agents-2014-2015). If we trade him, we retain our cap flexibility for the 2015.
Taking all that into account together with other reasons (injury concerns, small sample size of high productivity, lack of ties to the Suns etc.) leads me to believe trading Bledsoe is a choice worth exploring.
I've explained why Vucevic is a great player and a great fit for the Suns in http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2014/4/20/5633272/a-long-gaze-at-the-offseasuns-bledsoe-bosh-vucevic .
I believe Orlando would be interested in the trade because they get a potential American franchise player to pair up in the back-court with Oladipo, starting-worthy young center to replace the player they traded and a 1st round pick, all for a foreign player who'll be RFA next year. If Orlando wants Bledsoe, they can't risk Phoenix matching their offer sheet for him. Also, they have the 4th and the 12th pick this year, so they can afford to draft 1 or 2 excellent/high upside big men to replace Vucevic.
I believe Bledsoe would be interested in a S&T, because he'd get a max contract, be the undisputed leader of a young and promising team, and play in a state next to his home state (Alabama) and in a state where his BFF LBJ plays.
So all in all, we trade Bledsoe, Plumlee and the 27th pick for an all-star caliber PF/C and for the cap-space flexibility which we can turn into two max contract FAs in 2015.
Chicago is seriously looking into signing Melo this offseason, and they wish to move Boozer's contract instead of using the amnesty clause on him. Trading Boozer would allow them to either amnesty Gibson and sign Melo, or sign Melo while retaining Gibson. Giving up Mirotic is a price they'd have to pay for someone taking on Boozer's massive expiring contract (16.8m). There aren't many teams in the East looking to help the Bulls by doing this trade, and in the West, not many teams have the cap space required to take on Boozer without sending back salary. In return, they could also get our 2015 Minny pick, top 12 protected to sweeten the deal.
We would get rights to Mirotić for basically giving out cap space (which we don't need this year if we trade Bledsoe) and a pick that will probably turn translate into two 2nd round picks in '16 and '17.
Mirotic is perhaps the most lauded European prospect at the moment. More on him at http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1877071-how-good-can-chicago-bulls-super-prospect-nikola-mirotic-be-in-the-nba , http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/tag/_/name/nikola-mirotic . We would also get one year of Boozer, an interesting offensive player.
Atlanta doesn't have great wing players, so they could use Marcus Morris. They could use a young 6th man quality PF/C with good shooting to play behind Millsap/Horford. For us, the Morrii brothers seriously hamstring our cap flexibility next year with their cap-holds, and they'll be RFA next summer, so their trade value this summer is probably as high as it will get in the near future.
Depends on who we're after in the draft and if teams in the top 8 are willing to trade away their pick for #14 and #15 (or #14 and Morii brothers, if #3 doesn't go through).
The situation after the trades
Dragic, Green, Tucker, Boozer, Vucevic
Archie, #14, #15, Mirotic, Frye, Len, Ish Smith
This team would be able to compete for the playoffs.
Summer of 2015, cap situation:
Dragic (cap hold of 7.5m)
Green (cap hold of 6.65m)
Tucker (cap hit of 4.5m)
Vucevic (qualifying offer of 4m)
Archie (cap hit of 1.1m)
Len (cap hit of 3.8m)
#14 pick (cap hit 1.6m)
#15 pick (cap hit 1.5m)
2 1st round picks (LAL, PHO) (cap hit around 3m)
Mirotic (cap hit of 1m (23rd pick in 2011 draft)
1 empty slot (cap hold equal 1x rookie minimum scale – around 0.8m)
Total cap hit: 35.45m
Cap level in 2015/2016 estimated to be 66.5m, plus the midlevel exception (MLE) of around 5m.
So we could sign TWO max players for a combined 31.05m, then another FA for around 5m on the MLE.
(If needed, we could renounce our FA rights to Green, free up additional 6.65m cap space and have 37.7m cap space for two max players. Then, after using it up, we could ask Green to give us a discount and use the MLE on him.)
Then we could re-sign Dragic, Vucevic and Green.
Then we could re-sign Frye for a vet minimum of 2m.
Then at the start of the 2015/2016 season we'd have a team of:
Dragic, Vucevic, max FA, max FA, MLE FA (or Green, if we renounce his FA rights)
Archie, Green, Tucker, Mirotic, Len
#14 pick, #15 pick, 2015 1st round pick PHO, 2015 1st round pick LAL, Frye
Building a championship squad isn't supposed to be fast or easy. I believe re-signing Bledsoe means going all-in this year, and the level of development of our young players and the available FAs this year suggests we won't be competing in 14/15. Also, we would hamstring our ability to add future marquee FAs in 2015 and improve our squad.
However, we could turn Bledsoe, Plumlee, Morii brothers and several non-early 1st round picks into a great young player of All-star caliber in Vucevic, one of the best European prospects in a long time in Mirotic, and the cap space for two max contract FAs in the loaded 2015 FA class, putting us in prime position for the 15/16 season and those beyond.
Also, Dragic will still be in his prime, and with the exception of Frye and perhaps Tucker, all other players will have improved physically and/or skill-wise. With such a great core in place and other factors of appeal, I'm sure we could lure two marquee free agents in the summer of 2015, and compete from 15/16 onwards.
Thank you for your attention and comments, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the feasibility and benefits/detriments of the discussed trades.