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How would Tucker trades look?

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We examine the potential Suns trades to the teams reportedly interested in small forward P.J. Tucker, per John Gambodoro

NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

John Gambodoro reported on ArizonaSports.com and his radio show Burns and Gambo on Wednesday that, with a month to go before the trade deadline, Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker has a lot of suitors out there looking to trade for his services.

According to my NBA sources, the Clippers, Bulls, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Hawks all have interest in acquiring the lock-down physical defender who is in the last year of his contract at just $5.3 million.

Read the whole story here.

Later on yesterday, Suns GM Ryan McDonough said the Suns are NOT interested in simply picking up a second round pick for a guy like P.J. Tucker.

“A second-round pick is not something we’d be excited about getting for one of our core players. We certainly put P.J. in that mix,” McDonough said.

“Just to trade one of our core guys for a second-round pick — given that we have all of our own picks going forward, given that we have those two Miami picks that are getting closer to conveying potentially starting next year in the 2018 draft — second-round picks, they don’t really move the needle a lot for us.”

The Suns already have three first round picks* and two second round picks coming up in the next two drafts, assuming Miami doesn’t finish in the bottom seven and keep their pick until 2019.

Add them to a roster already loaded with five players 21 and under, including three teenagers when you include Derrick Jones Jr., and you’ve got a team that doesn’t need volume draft picks.

Going forward, the team needs draft picks good enough to use in a trade-up - like the Marquese Chriss trade - or a trade-out to get a proven player. Extra second round picks won’t get that done.

Last spring, McDonough had to wait it out but eventually got a lottery pick for disgruntled Markieff Morris because there’s almost always a team that blinks.

So what could Suns trades with the aforementioned teams look like?

Clippers

The Clippers are having a tough time after their great start. They have a great core four once Chris Paul comes back, and this could be a last hurrah for this group as long as they can tread water in Paul’s absence.

Beyond the core four is a terrible small forward position and bench rotation.

The Clippers current small forward rotation includes Wesley Johnson, Paul Pierce and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. That’s a poo poo platter that has it’s moments but isn’t a position that can show consistency or predictability.

Definitely, P.J. Tucker can help the Clippers.

But what can the Clippers offer the Suns? Certainly not players. All of Wes, Paul and Luc are under contract beyond this summer, and the rest of the Clippers cap is tied up in stars they won’t trade or low-end role players the Suns don’t want.

And even IF the Suns would take multiple years on a player to get a first round pick included, the Clippers can’t trade any. They have already committed their pick to Toronto (lottery-protected through 2019).

Sorry, no deal.

Bulls

The Bulls, on the other hand, are a LOT more interesting as a trade partner from the Suns point of view.

The problem here is that I don’t see why the Bulls would want Tucker. They have an All-Star in Jimmy Butler already, plus Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. Heck, even Denzel Valentine should qualify as a potential guy for SF minutes going forward.

Plus, it’s not like the Bulls are going for a championship this season. It’s not like Tucker is the key to putting them over the top like he might be for the Clippers, for example.

So as long as Butler plays in Chicago, I don’t see Tucker going there.

But hey, let’s have a little fun. Let’s pretend the Bulls are “listening” on Jimmy Butler.

Would you trade Tucker, Eric Bledsoe, one of Bender/Chriss/Warren and the Suns’ 2017 first round pick for Butler?

Would the Bulls do the deal? That’s a lot of good talent to get more Butler if they decide to move on and rebuild. The top 2017 pick could be their PG of the future.

The Bulls already have Sacramento’s top pick (top 10 protected) plus their own, but it’s a GREAT draft and the Suns pick would most likely be the best of them all. Or, they could ask for the Suns’ or Miami’s 2018 pick if they don’t want too much in the 2017 draft.

If I’m the Suns, I’d offer whatever they want (but not Devin Booker) to acquire Jimmy Butler. It’s time to trade up.

Cavaliers

Not sure why Cleveland is mentioned in this group, after they just did some magic to acquire Kyle Korver. The Cavs no longer have any good draft picks available until the 2020s, and they don’t have good contracts or young talent, unless you want Jordan McRae back?

I just don’t see how this happens.

I mean, you could imagine a larger trade of Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker together going to Cleveland, since they are both the kind of guys who’d be great complimentary pieces on that team, but what would come back? They finally got Kevin Love playing like an All-Star again, and Kyrie Irving is a god now that he made the ring-clinching shot. They won’t trade Tristan Thompson either.

So what’s left? Iman Shumpert? That ship has sailed. He’s simply not going to be any more than a shoulda been, coulda been.

Wolves

Ahh the Wolves. They are not trading any of their awesome 21-year olds for P.J. Tucker, so put that out of your mind. Besides Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, who would you want from the Wolves?

Let’s pretend for a moment that Wiggins doesn’t already play 90% of the SF minutes and that there’s no room for Tucker. They could slot Tucker at PF I guess. So let’s go with that.

Who would the Suns take back for Tucker?

I suppose Shabazz Muhammad could be had, but he’s basically a T.J. Warren type who can’t shoot from deep and is even more one-dimensional in his scoring than Tony Buckets. He might rebound a bit better, but can’t even defend as well as Buckets.

You could talk about Ricky Rubio, but then you’d have to make it a much bigger deal so the Suns get rid of Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight or both. None of us want to bury Tyler Ulis even further down the list by bringing in another point guard.

Plus, I can’t imagine that defense-first Thibodeau would compound his defensive problems by swapping Rubio for Knight. So they’d want Bledsoe, with Dunn taking over when he’s ready.

But then you’d be combining Bledsoe and Tucker going out, which requires more than Rubio coming back. Rubio and... who? I already discussed why Muhammad doesn’t work in Phoenix. Tyus Jones is basically the same as Tyler Ulis. Adreian Payne is not as good as Chriss or Bender.

On top of that, the Wolves can’t even trade a 2017 pick. Their 2018 pick is already owned (lottery-protected from 2018-2020) by the Hawks and you can’t trade consecutive first round picks.

That’s about it on the Wolves.

Unleeeeeesssss... unless the Wolves are secretly thinking of breaking up with Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has been disappointing compared to his draft stock. He scores, but doesn’t really shoot from distance, doesn’t rebound enough, doesn’t pass enough and is inconsistent on defense. If Thibodeau decides he can’t handle watching three 21-year olds struggle and that he likes LaVine and Towns best, he might break them up.

I’d take Wiggins in Phoenix for Tucker and Warren in heartbeat. I’d even include a protected first rounder. And once you have those pieces in the deal, then any other player-swapping becomes more fun. I’d include Bledsoe for Rubio at that point as part of a bigger deal.

Wolves/Bulls/Suns three way?

Thibodeau probably still really wants Jimmy Butler in Minnesota more so than Tucker.

But then if I’m the Bulls I insist on Wiggins coming back. And if I’m the Wolves, I realize that you can’t have a wing rotation of Butler, Wiggins AND LaVine. They’d each need too many minutes to make that work.

Hawks

Really? The Hawks are interested? I don’t understand this one.

The Hawks just traded away Kyle Korver to the Cavaliers to basically concede the East, and I’ve heard they want to find more room for their rookie small forwards in Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry. If that’s the case, why acquire Tucker?

I don’t really see this one happening either.

Bottom line

Of the teams mentioned by Gambo, and the requirements outlined by McDonough himself, I don’t see a lot happening unless some bigger trade materializes.

The Clippers have less than nothing to give back in terms of draft picks or young talent, and frankly neither do the Cavaliers or the Timberwolves (unless it’s a huge Wiggins trade).

The Bulls and Hawks have good SF prospects to give back that I’d love to see in Phoenix, but why would they do it? Granted, these are two teams fighting for a playoff spot, but as I outlined above there’s a lot of reasons neither the Hawks nor the Bulls would give the Suns any real talent back for Tucker.

If the asking price on Tucker is something better than a second-round pick, then we are still looking for a viable suitor or a much bigger trade (which makes it a lot less likely).