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Potential Phoenix Suns NBA Trade Targets for a playoff push

Assuming the Suns want to improve their roster for a playoff push, which available players could be had?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are surging, winners of 10 of their last 12 games and now at 22-16 sit solidly in the 8th position in the West with a sniff at 7th as they face the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

Yet, the Suns are behind the top seven teams in the West in terms of experience and (on paper) top-end talent, and might just be passed up by Oklahoma City if they get healthy and haven't ruined their season by acquiring Dion Waiters.

Sure, the Suns can make the playoffs this season. But the odds are really stacked against them.

Meanwhile the rich are getting richer, even though we are still five weeks away from the trading deadline.

The Dallas Mavericks (3rd seed, as of now) added PG Rajon Rondo for backups. Houston (6th seed) acquired Corey Brewer and Josh Smith for next to nothing. Oklahoma City (10th) acquired G Dion Waiters for a future #1 pick to reprise James Harden's role and hope for a stretch run of good health.

Meanwhile, rumor has it that the Blazers (Jermaine O'Neal), Clippers (Tony Wroten) and Grizzlies (Luol Deng, Jeff Green) have all targeted upgrades from the free agent pool and/or teams ready to divest themselves for future assets.

Where does that leave the Suns?

For one thing, the Suns are not in the business of selling off assets for marginal increase in production. At no point in the past year have the Suns shown any indication they are ready to mortgage any of their future for minor fix to the rotation.

Yet, it does appear that (a) other teams are loading up around them and (b) a little bit more experience could help turn around some of those close losses.

Suns Assets

Let's review the list of Suns trade assets as we stand.

  • Three starting-caliber point guards (Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas) who are sharing the bulk of the guard minutes. Gerald Green could take over more minutes if one is traded.
  • Alternately, Gerald Green is a free agent in July and will likely command more money than the Suns want to pay
  • C Alex Len (21) who has demonstrated a bright future as a starting center
  • C Miles Plumlee (26), PF Markieff Morris, F Marcus Morris, F P.J. Tucker who could be good rotation players for any team
  • Four young prospects not getting any playing time: G Archie Goodwin (20), F T.J. Warren (21), PG Tyler Ennis (20) and G Zoran Dragic (25)
  • Rights to G Bogdan Bogdanovic (22), finalist for European Player of the Year
  • The Lakers' pick which is #Top5Protected in 2015, but only top 3 protected next year
  • Minnesota's 2015 or 2016 first rounder, top-12 protected, or two second rounders (2016 and 2017) if Wolves bad enough
  • All of their own future draft picks (likely early second half of each round)
  • $6.2 million in cap space to absorb more salary than comes in

If that seems like a lot of assets, it is.

Off the table

But assuming the Suns (a) want to make the playoffs and (b) will not sacrifice the future in any major way, let's take a few off the trade table.

I would remove Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe from the trade table entirely. No question, no trade, no matter what the offer. Dragic has too many roots in Phoenix. Bledsoe is too good on both ends of the floor. If you want the playoffs, these guys stay as your starting back court. No other available guards could demonstrably get the Suns further THIS SEASON.

The next two I would remove are Markieff Morris and Alex Len, unless the player coming back is an All-Star caliber player. Keef is a solid starter under a great contract. Len has super-high potential and two cheap years left on his rookie deal after this one. Both have proven to be winners. But, if an All-Star is coming back, those guys would have to be made available.

And if you're taking Markieff off the table, you have to also take Marcus Morris off as well. For better or worse (and almost always better), these guys are a package deal and the Suns have always treated them as such.

If you're trying for the playoffs, one more guy I would take OFF the table is Gerald Green. He's a catalyst, a microwave, exactly the kind of guy that playoff teams want. He stays.

P.J. Tucker also fits that mold and is the glue for this team in a lot of ways. Playoff teams like having guys like P.J. Tucker. You'd only trade him if the guy coming back is a LOT better at SF, and can take the tough defensive assignment.

What's left?

  • PG Isaiah Thomas (25)
  • C Miles Plumlee (26)
  • Four young prospects not getting any playing time: G Archie Goodwin (20), F T.J. Warren (21), PG Tyler Ennis(20) and G Zoran Dragic (25)
  • Rights to G Bogdan Bogdanovic (22), finalist for European Player of the Year
  • The Lakers' pick which is #Top5Protected in 2015, but only top 3 protected next year
  • Minnesota's 2015 or 2016 first rounder, top-12 protected, or two second rounders (2016 and 2017) if Wolves bad enough
  • All of their own future draft picks (likely early second half of each round)
  • $6.2 million in cap space to absorb more salary than comes in

That's still a ton of assets.

Trade targets

Who is out there, and available, who would be an upgrade over the current rotation without sacrificing the future?

Lots of names have been bandied about these parts in recent months, but if you're only talking about the next five weeks and if you're only talking about making a playoff run this season, I think the list of good options is a short one.

First of all, this list ONLY includes potentially available talent from NON-PLAYOFF teams and/or players already rumored on the trading block. There are no Paul Millsaps on this list, for example.

Second of all, this is only MY list. Yours might be different. The Suns' list is certainly different as well.

Here we go...

Chris Bosh - the Suns were willing to give Bosh a max contract this summer, but Bosh wanted to stay in Miami. Now maybe he (or Miami) is ready for a change. Bosh is an upgrade at power forward and can play center as well. He shoots from long-range well. Basically, Bosh is an older, more expensive but better Markieff Morris. But is it worth taking on a max contract of a guy in his 30s already? And how much would it cost?

Luol Deng - Deng would be an upgrade at SF over Tucker, but is more expensive (though on a short contract). Cleveland picked him up mid-season last year for a playoff push, though, and he was definitely not a difference maker. But the Suns did like Luol last summer, so there's likely interest on the Suns part. Still, no deal.

Brandan Wright - replacing Miles Plumlee with someone more consistent would be nice, and Wright fits that bill. Even better, he's free agent this summer meaning the trade cost won't be high (a second rounder or two, or the Minny pick?)

Jeff Green - people like Jeff Green, but I'm not one of them. He's a tweener at SF/PF and the Suns already have enough of those. I don't see Green being demonstrably better than Marcus Morris, for example. No deal.

Brandon Bass - no. Please no. He's an undersized PF who can't play C or SF. No.

Kosta Koufos - now this would be interesting. Koufos isn't getting playing time behind Gasol in Memphis and is a terrific defender and rim protector. But would Memphis trade within the Conference, and within the playoff race? Likely not.

Arron Afflalo - this guy would be a defensive upgrade over Gerald Green and can make a bunch of threes. He's not a microwave, but he's a nice all-around player who the Suns would be lucky to have.

Jason Thompson - Suns fans have liked this guy for years, but he never amounted to anything. Not likely he's traded, and not likely the Suns want him. But he CAN play both PF and C and rebounds well, though he has no offensive range and really doesn't defend that well.

Nikola Pekovic - was good a couple years ago and got a great deal. Is a great scoring threat around the basket and rebounds like boss. Been injured, but coming back soon. He's a plodder and a terrible defensive player, though, and likely would not fit the Suns running scheme enough to play big minutes. No deal.

Samuel Dalembert - Sorry, this is personal. Never liked Sammy as a player. Bad defensive player despite the occasional highlight. He can protect the rim a bit, but there's a reason one of the worst teams in the league is releasing him. No deal.

Brook Lopez - the other Lopez brother has the opposite profile. Brook can score like a mad man, but he's a terrible defender, bad rebounder and can't protect the rim. Add in the max contract, and it's big no.

Larry Sanders - this one's interesting. At his best, Sanders can defend like crazy, rebound and protect the rim. He'd be perfect on the Suns in terms of skillset (except no shooting ability) at the C. However, he's a head case who's currently away from the Bucks for personal reasons. If there was any indication he's getting straightened out, it might not cost much to get him. Unfortunately, the money doesn't match in any trade unless the Suns give up a lot, which they won't.

Kevin Seraphin - On talent, Seraphin can be a Miles Plumlee type. Maybe even slightly better. He's the other Rich Paul client who took the qualifying offer last summer and will be a free agent this summer. He's cheap, and wouldn't cost much to acquire. If the Suns are worried about Len's rookie wall, they might try to add a guy like Seraphin to the end of the bench for spot minutes.

Summary

The pickings are slim for an in-season upgrade for a playoff push.

The biggest targets I see the Suns hitting are Chris Bosh or Luol Deng.

The smallest targets could be Brandan Wright or Kevin Seraphin to shore up the center position on a rental basis.