The Phoenix Suns are in position to make a big splash this summer, armed with $20 million in cap space while Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker test the restricted free agent waters and a handful of draft picks.
The Suns will be mentioned in most every big-name rumor as free agency approaches and runs rampant: Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Gordon Hayward, Greg Monroe, and so on and so on. The Suns have the means to acquire any of those - it's just a matter of fit and, in some cases, working out the trade parameters.
But don't count out another trade that follows last summer's blueprint of acquiring young, undervalued prospects for playoff-ready veterans. The Suns aren't "there" yet, so they need to keep acquiring undervalued youngsters whenever possible.
I know what you did last summer
Last summer, the Phoenix Suns had handful mid-priced veterans who were coveted by playoff-hopeful teams enough to produce a bevy of young talent and picks in return.
Washington wanted a starting center for a playoff run to replace the injured Emeka Okafor. The Suns gave them Marcin Gortat in exchange for the 17th overall pick in this year's draft.
Indiana wanted a backup PF for a title run. The Suns gave them Luis Scola in exchange for the 27th overall pick in this year's draft, third-leading scorer Gerald Green and leading rebounder Miles Plumlee.
But best of all, the Los Angeles Clippers wanted sweet shooting wing players. The Suns gave them Jared Dudley and a second round pick in exchange for starting point guard Eric Bledsoe who will be an All-Star candidate in the coming years.
That's three starters and two first-round draft picks for one starter and two veteran role players.
Can the Suns do it again?
First of all, Ryan McDonough is going to have a tougher time consummating deals this summer. Every GM in the league is going to raise the value on anyone McD wants in return.
You want the guy on the end of my bench, that my coach wouldn't even play last year?
Uh well, we have big plans for that guy. Sorry. (cups hand over phone, whispers to assistant 'trade away everyone in front of that kid! Get him on the court next season!')
But seriously, other GMs would be wise to hesitate working with McDonough on a similar trade this summer. Yet, the offseason is all about acquiring talent, and many GMs looking at the playoffs will undervalue their young assets in order to get that glue guy who help get them over the top in the playoffs.
Channing Frye for Harrison Barnes
First of all, I'll say that Barnes has never been on my 'drool list'. He is not a first or second option on any team because he doesn't appear to have that killer scoring instinct. He's primarily a jump shooter despite having enough handle and athleticism to get to the rack when he wants. He's similar to Rudy Gay in that way.
However, he did start 81 games for the Warriors a year ago as a 20-year old rookie, and helped them make the playoffs as the fourth scoring option in the offense behind Curry, Thompson and Lee.
Barnes struggled this past season when he was moved to the bench in favor of Andre Iguodala. Barnes was needed to provide scoring punch in the second unit, but regressed under the pressure of being a more primary option.
Still, he's only 21 and has the skillset to be a great player.
How could the Suns pilfer Barnes from Golden State?
The Warriors have no room for Barnes in their starting lineup, having Andre Iguodala under contract for three more seasons.
What they really need is a stretch big man to compliment their inside scoring of David Lee and paint presence (but non-scoring threat) Andrew Bogut.
Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com mentioned on a podcast with RealGM last week (there's 40 great minutes of Suns talk right there!) that Channing Frye would be a perfect fit for the Warriors offense, spreading the floor with his shooting while also being able to defend the post on the defensive end.
Would the Warriors want to swap Barnes for Frye?
While this is definitely an intriguing option, I don't really want to do the trade unless the Suns have already made some other moves to squeeze Frye's minutes.
I love having Frye on this team and he loves being here. He is a great calming influence in the locker room that's really necessary for a young team to stay even-keeled. And most of all, he's got a great connection with Goran Dragic, who will be a free agent next summer if he wants to be.
But if, and it's a big IF, the Suns acquire another stretch big man in the draft (Payne) or trade (Love) or free agency (Bosh) and don't have the room for Frye in the lineup anymore, maybe just maybe swapping Frye for Barnes is a great deal.
Barnes is much like Bledsoe - stuck behind an All-Star caliber player ahead of him with no starting role in sight. The Warriors just might decide a sure-thing stretch big man is more important for their "here and now" playoff run than the development of Barnes into a Sixth Man candidate.