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Suns vs Rockets: Why Dragic is untradeable

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This is still the place to go if you're looking for an outsider perspective on Suns game days! Today's look is at the a potential Dragic trade suitor who are also tonight's opponent, the Houston Rockets.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets would love to have Goran Dragic on their squad this year, and they aren’t shy about it. Not too long ago the Rockets had Dragic as well as Toronto Raports star Kyle Lowry as a point guard tandem before letting them go during the era of asset shuffling that took place just before Harden and Howard got to Houston. The team has moved on and enjoyed increased success the last two and a half seasons, but the fans in Houston still miss the Dragon and believe he could be the missing piece to a championship run. Isn’t this the perfect trade destination for Dragic if the Suns aren’t resigning him? A thirsty contender with assets who has a personal connection to him?

Houston might be the most likely destination for Dragic if he leaves Phoenix for free agency or by trade, but the Rockets are also the perfect example of why a trade for Goran this season will simply never make sense for the Suns and potential trade suitor. The conundrum comes down to who Goran Dragic is, as well as who the Phoenix Suns are.

Problem 1: Goran’s value

At the heart of the issue is this, Goran Dragic is a player nearing thirty years old, who is not an All-Star or a franchise cornerstone, and who is going to expect to be paid this Summer. There is no doubt he would provide big value to a team like the Rockets, but they can’t mortgage their future going after him. There lies the issue, no team can afford to mortgage their future for Goran, which makes this tricky because…

Problem 2: The Suns needs

Part of the reason Goran is going to continue to be speculated about so frequently in Suns trade talks is that it doesn’t seem the Suns need him all that badly. Phoenix has three point guards on this roster and multiple promising back up guards to get through the long and short term, if a Dragic trade were to happen. The Suns have holes on their roster, particularly with size on the wing, so why not trade Goran to help fill those holes. Because the Suns biggest need is a superstar, or at least an All-Star to take them to the next level. Goran Dragic isn’t just some promising player with an expiring contract on a garbage team looking to lose. The Suns want to win, and win now, and they can tell they are close to being contenders. Simply trading Dragic for a prospective wing man isn’t going to get the job done, Phoenix needs proven production. A team like the Rockets can’t offer the Suns the Pelicans draft pick (from the Asik trade) and expect it to carry any value. The Suns have all the draft picks they will need and then some. Nor can they offer a bevy of role players, stars are the name of the game now for Phoenix, and the league guards their stars like treasure.

Problem 3: The teams looking for Goran

These two problems lead to a situation where Goran is simply untradeable to any team in any circumstance.

Bad teams aren’t looking to trade for a player who they can’t build around, and the Suns don’t want those type of assets (draft picks or raw prospects) anyway. Goran is going to a playoff team if he leaves at all.

Good teams don’t want to trade for Goran because he becomes a free agent next year and is unlikely to launch them to championship contender status. What do the Bucks do if they trade for Goran, they still lose in the first round, he leaves for somewhere else at season end, and they realize they just traded a valuable young asset for him? No dice. Too much risk.

Finally, championship contenders don’t want him because they either already have a point guard, or they can’t afford the price tag. Surely the Rockets would like Beverly to be a sixth man spark plug rather than a starting point guard averaging well over 30 minutes, but who could they trade? Montiejunas? Markieff is already the starting power forward. Harden and Howard are off the table because the Rockets are only trading for Dragic to become contenders in the first place. Ariza is shooting 38% from the field and just got paid big money to do it. The rest of the roster isn’t good enough, and the Suns don’t need mid-first round draft picks, let alone late-first round draft picks.

There’s no deal, across the league for Dragic to be found. He’s not good enough for a bad team to build around, too risky on an expiring contract for a good team to invest in, and costs too much for a contender, assets wise, to be able to pay McDonough for him and still be a contender. The Rockets would love Goran Dragic, and maybe they love him so much that Morey can be tricked into over spending on him, but right now expect Goran to be with Phoenix at least until this summer.

Suns vs Rockets tonight at 6! Let’s see what the Outsiders think.

What Vegas Thinks: Déjà vu (Suns -2, O/U 214)

When you play a team twice in less than three weeks in the same arena it should not come as a huge surprise when the betting line is similar. Of course, on January 23rd against the Rockets both teams were in very different places. The Rockets had Dwight Howard, now out six to eight weeks with fluid in his knee, to start that game and the Suns were on a roll, having won 14 out of 18 heading into the night. Now the Suns are slumping and the Rockets are missing their defensive anchor, which Vegas apparently sees as a wash because the line is only .5 points different. The Suns were favored by 2.5 at tip last time, and are at an even 2 points tonight.

The Over/Under for this game is far more interesting. The last Rockets-Suns game had an O/U of 221, and it actually went over. Since then the only serious changes for these rosters have been both of them losing their defensive anchors at center. Shouldn’t this line be on its way up, not seven points down? Doesn’t Vegas understand the idea of a defensive anchor in the post? Yes, they do. The Over/Under is abnormally low because the Suns have now hit the under in Vegas eight straight games. Vegas hates streaks. Why? Any novice gambler can see a stat like "Suns games have hit the under eight straight times" and place a bet that it will happen a ninth. The next few games for Phoenix will probably feature some oddly low O/U’s as Vegas tries to right the ship and end the streak. In other words it’s strictly business, never personal. What’s that you say? The Suns are averaging 91.6 points per game over their last five games? Yeah… that could be the reason too, I guess. Vegas Prediction: Suns 108 Rockets 106

What the National Media Thinks: Suns against the Outsiders!

Get your swords and shields ready, the national media has officially turned on Phoenix in the playoff race. ESPN off-shoot fivethirtyeight.com, run by bashful wunderkind Nate Silver, wrote about the playoff race before determining the Suns had a well-below 50% chance of making it. Their reasoning was sound, as it always is with people of his ilk, focusing on the health of Kevin Durant and the Suns gruesome schedule the last month of the season as reasons why the Thunder have an edge. This has become a disturbingly popular theme among the NBA media, however. Bleacher Report is using the word doom, Sports Illustrated is writing about how badly the NBA needs to reform their playoff bracket so that the Suns can make it, he even used the word "sympathy" regarding a Suns loss, which didn’t help at all.

So it is official. The Outsiders have turned on the Suns. Forget sympathy, or peace, or a pat on the back for a job well done. It is time for war and it is time for destruction of the empire. The national media hates is against the Suns, they want to see them fail, and I don’t care if that makes any sense or not I’m going to believe it until they start writing nice things again. They must suffer. If violence isn’t your thing, find a nice ESPN or Yahoo! Sports article about the playoff race and scream at anybody who dares say anything negative about the Suns and/or anything positive about the Thunder. It will make you feel better. #Ipromise

What the Houston Media Thinks: Not panicking

Apparently the Houston Rockets fans are done worrying about Dwight Howard. Their SB Nation affiliate, The Dream Shake, has not yet posted an article about the injury time frame now being considered six to eight weeks. This can mean one of two things: Houston knew to expect this, has already had enough injury talk with Howard, and wants to move on. OR, there is an article currently being written that is incredibly long and incredibly sad and won’t be posted until the writer can buy a new keyboard that hasn’t suffered water damage from tears. Either one, really.

The preview of the Suns game ak2themax, which is a strange name to type out, is pretty fair in my opinion. He goes position by position and breaks down the advantage. His results:

Dragic vs Beverly: Advantage Dragic

Bledsoe vs Harden: Advantage Harden

Tucker vs Ariza: Advantage Ariza

Morris vs Montiejunas: Even

Plumlee vs Dorsey (Who?): Advantage Plumlee

Phoenix Bench vs Houston Bench: Even

While I disagree with his take on Keef vs Donuts, as well as the bench versus bench analysis, I totally agree with his prediction. The Dream Shake Prediction: Suns 102 Rockets 88