Well, we’re officially into December, and that means a slew of players are soon to be trade eligible. On Dec. 15, the majority of players who signed free agent contracts over the summer can be traded, opening up more trade possibilities for teams looking to wheel and deal.
What will that mean for the Phoenix Suns? Simply put, there will be more names for general manager Ryan McDonough to consider when inquiring around the league, but it doesn’t necessarily provide a quick fix for what ails the team.
Clearing the big man logjam and finding an upgrade at point guard are Phoenix’s most pressing needs. Below are the players who will become trade eligible for each team and a brief rundown on how the expanded roster of trade-eligible players affects — or fails to affect — the Suns. (Exceptions to the Dec. 15 date are listed in parentheses; no-trade clauses or similar provisions are denoted with NTC.)
Note: LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio), Robert Covington (Philadelphia), Norman Powell (Toronto), and Josh Richardson (Miami) will not be eligible to be traded before the Feb. 8, 2018 trade deadline. Stephen Curry (Golden State), James Harden (Houston), John Wall (Washington), and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City) will not be eligible to be traded during the 2017-18 league year.
Ersan Ilyasova NTC
Mike Muscala (Jan. 15) NTC
Isaiah Taylor (Jan. 17)
The lowdown: There are no targets here amongst the new players for Phoenix. At best, one of these players could act as salary filler in a deal for Dennis Schroder — if Atlanta is interested in surrendering its last significant player asset.
The lowdown: The Celtics would probably have no issue making Shane Larkin available, but he’s no upgrade over the point guards Phoenix already has in its stable. Marcus Smart could get bundled in a deal; however, it’s unlikely Boston moves any significant pieces that might alter team chemistry. If it ain’t broke….
The lowdown: Waiting for Zeller’s deal (less than $2 million) to become trade eligible should be no hindrance to making a swap in the present if desired. Spencer Dinwiddie is the only healthy player on the Nets’ roster who fills a pressing need for Phoenix, but with Jeremy Lin likely lost for the season and D’Angelo Russell out indefinitely, he’s filling a pressing need in Brooklyn, too.
The lowdown: Carter-Williams could be a stopgap option at point guard for the Suns, especially considering he has only played in half of Charlotte’s games thus far. He’s a little older (26) and has been trending in the wrong direction, but a one-year rental of a former Rookie of the Year might be worth a gamble in a season like this.
Cristiano Felicio (Jan. 15)
Nikola Mirotic (Jan. 15) NTC
The lowdown: Mirotic could help the Suns as a big man who can shoot (presuming he can still shoot straight after The Incident). But he’s not worth the Suns surrendering a young player or asset to acquire. Would Chicago take one of the logs jamming up the center position in return for Phoenix taking a peeved Mirotic off their hands?
Kyle Korver (Jan. 15)
Dwyane Wade (Dec. 27)
The lowdown: Cleveland doesn’t seem sure of which direction it wants to head in going forward from this season, making a trade with them difficult. They could use a Greg Monroe to provide scoring around the basket, but they have nothing Phoenix wants — well, almost nothing — and that doesn’t change on Dec. 15.
Nerlens Noel NTC
Dirk Nowitzki NTC
The lowdown: Nerlens Noel bet on himself this past summer, signing the qualifying offer from Dallas. Since then, he has been practically welded to Rick Carlisle’s bench as questions regarding his work ethic have bubbled up. Nothing changes here between Phoenix and Dallas by mid-month.
Richard Jefferson (Jan. 19)
Mason Plumlee (Jan. 15)
The lowdown: Emmanuel Mudiay gets mentioned a lot in rumors between these two teams, and it makes sense with Denver happy to have Jamal Murray running the point. Mudiay has talent, but Denver won’t give him away for free. A salary-shedding deal involving Greg Monroe for Mudiay and either Mason Plumlee or Kenneth Faried could be enticing for the capped Nuggets, but Phoenix would have to believe Mudiay is their answer at point to take on long-term salary like that. Mudiay has yet to make a convincing enough argument.
The lowdown: Avery Bradley and Ish Smith are two intriguing names on Detroit’s roster, but it’s unlikely the Pistons move either of them with the way they’re playing. A deal remains unlikely here for Phoenix.
Kevin Durant NTC
Andre Iguodala (Jan. 15)
Shaun Livingston (Jan. 15)
JaVale McGee NTC
Zaza Pachulia NTC
David West NTC
The lowdown: The Warriors are playing for chips, and their roster reflects that. The Suns aren’t, and their roster reflects that, too. Moving on….
Bobby Brown (Dec. 25) NTC
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
The lowdown: Phoenix had Troy Williams on their Summer League roster in 2016. They could potentially work a small deal to bring him back from a Houston team looking like a legitimate threat to Golden State in the West. They don’t have the playing time available to develop players like Williams. Beyond that…nope.
The lowdown: The Pacers have some intriguing talent, but the Pacers likely feel the same way about those guys. They’re playing surprisingly well this season after Paul George’s departure and would want something good to break that up. There’s just not a deal that makes sense here.
Blake Griffin (Jan. 15)
The lowdown: Injuries have hurt the Clippers badly to this point, and the rumblings have already begun. Is Doc Rivers on the hot seat? Is a rebuild imminent? If things don’t improve for LA, everything might soon be on the table, including Blake Griffin. The Suns would find themselves in excellent position to exploit the Clippers’ misfortune if things don’t look rosier by the middle of January.
Andrew Bogut (Dec. 19)
The lowdown: It’s a well-known fact the Lakers want to clear cap space to make a run at a couple of free agency’s biggest names next summer. None of the players who become trade eligible for the Lakers on Dec. 15 hinder that plan, but Phoenix could still facilitate some cost cutting — for a price.
JaMychal Green (Jan. 15)
The lowdown: The Grizzlies are in turmoil, and the rumors suggest Marc Gasol could soon be asking out of Memphis. However, Phoenix had a hard enough time including the nearly 28-year-old Eric Bledsoe in its future plans. A soon-to-be 33-year-old Gasol? Unlikely. No one else on that roster fits Phoenix, either.
Udonis Haslem NTC
The lowdown: Unless the trade with Miami involves a time machine trip to undo the Goran Dragic fiasco, there’s little worth Phoenix’s while.
DeAndre Liggins (Jan. 10)
Tony Snell (Jan. 15)
Jason Terry (Dec. 18) NTC
The lowdown: The Suns already tried a trade with Milwaukee this season, getting Greg Monroe in return. What are the odds the Bucks reconsider moving Malcolm Brogdon if Phoenix tries again? What if McDonough sends a cookie bouquet?
Aaron Brooks (Dec. 21)
Shabazz Muhammad NTC
The lowdown: Aaron Brooks is a third-string point guard in Minnesota, but the Suns aren’t that desperate.
Dante Cunningham (Dec. 24) NTC
Jrue Holiday (Jan. 15)
Jameer Nelson (Jan. 22)
The lowdown: The Pelicans are teetering between legitimate playoff team and full-on fire sale. If they slip in the standings, do the Suns make a run at DeMarcus Cousins, knowing he could bolt over the summer? Maybe they pick up Rajon Rondo, just so the fans can remember what it’s like to have a point guard who can facilitate offense for others.
Ron Baker NTC
Tim Hardaway Jr.
The lowdown: Is Kristaps Porzingis available? No? K bye.
Nick Collison NTC
Andre Roberson (Jan. 15)
The lowdown: The disappointing Thunder certainly possess talent, but they possess nothing that makes sense where Phoenix is concerned.
The lowdown: Orlando has to figure out what to do about Aaron Gordon next summer, specifically how far they’re willing to go into the red to keep their restricted free agent. The Suns could take some money off their books for some sweeteners, but the burdensome deals are trade eligible today.
The lowdown: Both Amir Johnson and J.J. Redick signed one-year deals with Philadelphia, so their money isn’t an issue. The Suns would probably have at least passing interest in former Arizona Wildcat T.J. McConnell, but the Sixers won’t be parting with him until they at least get Markelle Fultz back healthy. Oh, and the Suns would be interested in Fultz despite his mysterious shoulder injury. Just throwing it out there.
Alex Len (Dec. 23) NTC
The lowdown: The Suns aren’t trading Alan Williams unless they have to. He’s a solid role player on as team friendly a contract as you’ll ever see. But if the center rotation isn’t sorted out, perhaps Alex Len could surrender his Bird rights and agree to a trade sending him somewhere he believes will give him the opportunity he seeks.
The lowdown: If the Suns had any interest in winning, perhaps acquiring veteran George Hill to run the point would make sense, considering his questionable fit on a young (read: bad) Kings squad. But with a contract that averages $19 million over each of its three years, Sacramento would have to surrender first round picks well into the next decade for Phoenix to bite.
Patty Mills (Jan. 15)
The lowdown: Dejounte Murray makes more sense than Patty Mills for the Suns at point, but the Spurs see Murray as a potential successor to Tony Parker. Doubtful they just send him away.
Serge Ibaka (Jan. 15)
Kyle Lowry (Jan. 15)
The lowdown: Toronto could use a strong rebounding center, but it’s not clear what Phoenix would want/could get in return that makes sense from their end.
Joe Ingles (Jan. 15)
The lowdown: The Jazz have managed to tread water after losing Gordon Hayward over the summer and dealing with key injuries this season. They’ll probably give this core group a full season before making any decisions about a future direction.
Otto Porter Jr. (Jan. 15) NTC
The lowdown: Nothing here that the Suns need.