Clearly, the Phoenix Suns have not stopped making moves. Not one position is solidified for the future with a potential All-Star in the making. Maybe by the end of the 2013-14 season one or two will emerge from among Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin and Alex Len but that's a long shot.
Eric Bledsoe is who he is - a really good all-around player who doesn't excel at the pretty things like scoring. He is a bulldog on defense and gets a lot of steals, rebounds and blocks for a PG but All-Star voters don't respond to that (or Tony Allen would be an All-Star). He can pass, but he's not a natural floor leader. He can shoot, but he can't make them very often.
But Bledsoe will produce roughly 15 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game - his per-36 minutes numbers from last year backing up Chris Paul. This preseason, he's putting up basically those per-36 numbers with a few more assists (though he's only playing 23 minutes per game).
Archie Goodwin and Alex Len have the raw talent to someday be All-Stars but that talent is very, very raw indeed and may never turn into skill. At 19 and 20 years old, respectively, both have a lot of growing to do and will get the time to do it.
No one else on the current roster has the potential to be an All-Star. Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat are the team's best statistical players, but neither is top-10 at his position let alone rare enough to make an All-Star team.
So, the wheels must keep on turning.
For this exercise, let's focus on the following
- The trade will happen in the next week, before the regular season starts, meaning all current contracts are in place
- The trade will acquire a young player on a rookie contract
- The young player acquired must have a higher ceiling than any outgoing player, if even slightly
- The trade must make a little sense - no John Wall for Kendall Marshall proposals, and no 'take our five crappiest players for your one really good one, because volume matters'
- The Suns are still rebuilding and need a top pick next spring, so they can't get too much better
- It's preferred that the player fit the Suns new up-tempo style
- If you include a trade proposal, please don't just post the link to the ESPN trade machine and assume everyone will click it. Some people hate clicking through. Explain the parts of the trade in the comment.
With the Suns trying to improve their future, it's okay to include one or more future draft picks if that's what gets the deal done for a better individual player than anyone on the current roster.
Here's what the Suns have:
- Two potential lottery picks in next two years
- Three late-first picks in next two years
- Morris, Morris and Marshall - three middling, but at least young, players who the acquiring team could release next summer if desired (so they are like expiring contracts) but could also, conceivably, break out on a new team
- Len and Goodwin - high potential, low current production, very young
- Marcin Gortat - only real valuable for a playoff team needing a center
- Goran Dragic - only real valuable for a playoff team needed a point guard or a sixth man guard
- Everyone else
Within the narrow scope of STAYING young and acquiring only players with upside, I am limiting my targets to players from the 2010-2012 drafts. My assumption is that it's too soon for another team to give up on a 2013 player.
I have also narrowed my choices to teams who want to fight for the playoffs this year. Only they would be wiling to dump younger talent for a chance to win games this season. So, no trades with Philly or Orlando, for example.
C Greg Monroe (entering 4th year)
Looking for a rookie extension going into his fourth year, Monroe is a good player that deserves $10+ million per year. He would cost a lot to acquire - likely 2 first round picks from among the 2013 (Len, Goodwin)/2014/2015 drafts AND a veteran that would help Detroit win games, such as Channing Frye, Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe.
- Pros: Monroe is a very skilled player with good post scoring ability and rebounding prowess. He's getting squeezed out by the more-talented Andre Drummond at center, and is wanting a big contract extension off his rookie deal.
- Cons: He is earth-bound much like Jared Dudley was for the Suns, and isn't a fast-break floor runner. He does not fit the mold of the new team, yet would be under a $10+ million multi-year contract. Another con is the asking price.
- Conclusion: That's way too much for a guy who wouldn't fir the system yet would have to be extended for a lot of money. You wouldn't acquire Monroe while also keeping Len - they occupy the same spots on the floor. Isn't it too soon to write off Len for a really expensive version?
PF Ed Davis (entering 4th year)
Ed Davis never did establish future stardom in Toronto, then was traded (with others) for Rudy Gay last spring and now sits on the bench behind a really good front line on long-term contracts. He did not attend Summer League, thinking he was beyond that, which frustrated the Grizzlies. I am thinking Davis wants a playing opportunity he won't get in Memphis and would probably leave for a good offer next summer that the Grizz couldn't afford to match.
- Pros: great floor runner, good rebounding and shot blocking, would fit the Suns new system
- Cons: slender, only a marginal upgrade over Markieff Morris, yet good enough to expect a long-term extension. Really bad at post defense due to lack of sand in the bucket
- Conclusion: depending on the cost, could be a valuable pickup and might blossom in the Suns new running system. But the Suns should not give up a lot for Davis.
F Jan Vesely (entering 3rd year)
He's been an incredible disappointment in Washington, with no NBA position besides "undersized center". Has barely played for a really bad Washington team that suddenly wants to make the playoffs.
- Pros: He's a floor runner with a high upside. Might cost almost nothing to acquire - like Kendall Marshall.
- Cons: He cannot shoot worth a lick, and has trouble doing anything offensively. He has no NBA position, yet makes more than two Morrises put together due to high draft position.
- Conclusion: If the cost is almost nothing AND the Suns have rotation room (ie. lots of players are jettisoned in some way) then maybe he's worth acquiring. But he'd be the 4th best option at small forward and center.
F Derrick Williams (entering 3rd year)
Another real disappointment since being taken top-5 in 2011. He and Vesely are quite the pair. A tweener who likely belongs at power forward in the NBA as an undersized guy, he hasn't even garnered a rotation spot in Minnesota this year - having already lost a starting spot to Corey Brewer. Corey. Brewer. He may not even get his fourth year option picked up.
- Pros: has potential as a scorer in many ways. Could be an undersized PF in an uptempo system
- Cons: Is basically a clone of Marcus Morris, only slightly better but making more than twice the money.
- Conclusion: Would only be a roll-the-dice move by the Suns, much like Vesely. Not much of an upgrade. Would not get an extension, meaning he's likely this year's Wesley Johnson.
PF Kenneth Faried (entering 3rd year)
A surprise inclusion on this list, and one that likely is a laugher. Yet with Brian Shaw saying he wants to go more traditional in Denver, it's easy to see how an undersized power forward in Faried might not fit the new plan. Especially with Faried certainly wanting $10+ million a year next year in a rookie extension. Maybe the Suns could steal him for a package of prospects?
- Pros: clearly fits an uptempo system as a floor runner, dunker and rebounder with tons of energy
- Cons: He is what he is, meaning he won't ever score more than 10-12 points per game. He's basically a front-court version of Eric Bledsoe - tons of energy and activity, but not an All-Star.
- Conclusion: With Faried 2 seasons away from big money, there's no reason for Denver to trade him unless the Suns totally blow them away with a big offer. Would likely take multiple #1s and a veteran like Frye or Gortat, which could ultimately be an overpayment for a guy who can't score.
SF Evan Turner (entering 4th year)
Turner has no interest in staying in Philadelphia and they likely have no interest in keeping him. They probably want to trade him before having to pull a Thabeet - not giving a 4th year contract to a former #2 overall pick (2010).
- Pros: He's got talent. He can run an offense from the small forward position, and upped his corner-3 percentage to the mid-30s. And, he rebounds very well from the SF position
- Cons: He can't shoot. Period. The guy has very little offensive game, which hurts his efficiency and ends up clogging the lane because his guy can sag off. Plus, Turner shoots a LOT of midrange jumpers, the worst shot on the court.
- Conclusion: He can likely be had for very little in return, but the cost of his salary would make the Suns refuse to pick up his 4th year option, making him the 2013-14 version of Wesley Johnson. If you're counting, that's three potential acquisitions now that are not much better than Marshall, the Morrii, and Wesley Johnson.
SG Jeremy Lamb
Lots of Suns fans - and Suns front office folks - wanted Jeremy Lamb last year. He's currently under a great deal of pressure to succeed in OKC as a third scoring option and likely won't meet their expectations so early in his career. Plus, he's really only a 3-and-D player, like a Courtney Lee once was for Orlando.
- Pros: can shoot better than any current Sun, and can play defense.
- Cons: is he better than Archie Goodwin, in the long run? Goodwin has a higher potential ceiling (can handle the rock, pass and drive/score at the rim), and neither has done anything on the basketball court yet. So is it worth giving up a lot for a guy who older and maybe no better than Archie Goodwin?
- Conclusion: At this point, I've cooled on Lamb until we see more of Goodwin.
SF Gordon Hayward
Teammate Derrick Favors just got $49 million over 4 years, and Hayward has done more in the NBA than Favors to this point. Would rebuilding Utah give out two big-money contracts in the same offseason (or next year) before knowing if those guys lead to winning? This may be an OKC situation - where the team decides to keep the big and trade the wing. But then again, who knows what Utah will do.
- Pros: Actually, it sure seems like a Gordon Hayward would be a perfect fit as a wing shooter and energy guy around drivers Bledsoe/Dragic/Goodwin. Hayward also played for Hornacek and has credited Hornacek for helping him with his shot.
- Cons: Hayward will never be a #1 option. He's at best a 3rd to 4th best player on a contender and the Suns already have some of those. Would he be worth it?
- Conclusion: Depending on the cost (likely someone like Goodwin because Utah does not have a high-ceiling shooting guard yet), I would go ahead and make this trade. Goodwin might become the better player, but Hayward is more of a sure thing.
More from Bright Side Of The Sun:
- Tinkering Around Part One: Are the Morris Twins the answer at forward for the Phoenix Suns?
- Get a Bright Side of the Sun t-shirt to sport for the 2013-14 season
- Phoenix Suns fall at Sacramento Kings, 107-90; Goran Dragic suffers ankle injury
- Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 42: Pre-Season Stand-Outs, Most Hated Suns, and The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Answer To The Team
- Phoenix Suns twins Marcus and Markieff Morris trying to fit in, awaiting word on their 2014-15 options