The Phoenix Suns are open for anything. It appears they aren't any more excited than the fans are about yet another mid-first pick joining the already-strong mix of young mid-first round picks in the current rotation.
"I think it is something we're more open to than in the past," GM Ryan McDonough said of trading down or out of the draft next month.
The Suns are already flush with eight roster spots dedicated to players under 26 years old. Eric Bledsoe (#18), Markieff Morris (#13), Marcus Morris (#14), Reggie Bullock (#21), Archie Goodwin (#29) and T.J. Warren (#14) are all mid-to-late first round picks on the Suns roster right now. The Suns have also drafted, and later traded, Kendall Marshall (#13) and Tyler Ennis (#18) in the last few years as well. Among the young core, only Alex Len (#5) and Brandon Knight (#8) were Top-10 picks in their draft.
They can't even get rotation time for guys like Goodwin and Bullock right now, let alone adding another #13 pick to the mix this summer.
"At some point, there is a saturation point for young players as you try to put together a team that is capable of competing and making the playoffs in the Western Conference," he said.
This doesn't mean the Suns are going "playoffs or broke" next season, but McDonough and Babby have both said that some of last season's troubles were because there were not enough veteran influences on the young team. Adding yet another young player to the eight young players already on the roster is not something the Suns will do without looking at alternatives.
What the Suns need to add this summer are a couple of veterans to the rotation, which might include Danny Granger who is working out the Suns facilities all summer trying to get healthy, and some top-end talent.
"We like where we're at," McDonough said. "We'd love to be a lot higher."
With a team full of pretty good players on the young side of their careers, adding another pretty good player at #13 this year might only be done if one or more of the existing pretty good players is swapped in a trade.
To want to trade up is a no-brainer. The Suns will try. My guess is that they'd prefer to trade a player or two, along with the #13 pick, to a team willing to take them for a Top 10 pick.
The problem is that every other NBA team knows the same thing the Suns know: only top end talent carries teams to the playoffs. Trading the Suns a Top-10 pick for a volume of lesser players is not an easy sell.
Just look at the last time a team traded a high pick for a number of middling players. Washington traded the #5 pick in 2009 to Minnesota in exchange for two rotation players. The Wizards thought they were young enough, and just needed to add some veterans to their core. The problem was that they added the wrong veterans. The trade was a disaster and the Wizards didn't come close to the playoffs as a result.
The Suns themselves are also a good lesson on why you shouldn't just hand off a Top-10 pick. In 2004, they traded the #7 pick, which ended up being Luol Deng, for some pocket lint because they thought they already had too much young talent and needed to add veterans. In retrospect, it sure would have been nice to slot Deng or Andre Iguodala into the rotation after Joe Johnson bolted a year later.
Trading down or out
Those same trades are the reason the Suns should hesitate before trading down. While the #13 isn't going to be a great player, it can certainly be a playable rotation player for the future.
Let's say the Suns lose two or three of those younguns in the next 12 months, either through trade... or prison sentences. Wouldn't it be nice to slot in a cheap replacement from this year's draft?
Trading down would have to result in a better player for the Suns. I'd hate to see the Suns just punt on this draft because they're flush with middling youth already.
If the Suns cannot improve their roster by parlaying the #13 pick into something better, then they should just draft the best player available and wait to see how it all shakes out.
Remember, even drafting Tyler Ennis was smart last summer. Wouldn't Ennis have been valuable this spring after all the trades and injury to Knight? McDonough could very well be looking at another point guard #13, just like any other position.
"As a non-playoff team, I think you need help everywhere," McDonough said. "So we'll take the best player, even if that goes against what some people think we should do in terms of conventional wisdom. I think, unless you're a championship-level team, you always take the best available player."