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Cousins, Butler, George all in play and Suns have one of best packages available

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The Phoenix Suns want a star, and a few of them might be available this week for the right package.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

To varying degrees, at least three All-Stars could be available this week before the trade deadline on Thursday.

Small forward Paul George, small forward Jimmy Butler and center DeMarcus Cousins will all be the subject of heavy trade talks this week as their teams decide which way to go forward.

All are disgruntled to some extent, all want to make the playoffs on a regular basis, and all are in their athletic primes and within 18 months of the biggest paydays of their careers.

The primary teams being mentioned are the Celtics (Butler, George) and the Pelicans (Cousins) so far, but you know as well as I do that the Suns are really good at keeping their trade talks a secret if they are really happening.

For the first time under Ryan McDonough’s tenure, the Phoenix Suns are one of the best positioned teams in the league to give up the required assets to get that All-Star without gutting the very best players on the team.

While keeping potential All-Star Devin Booker and core player Eric Bledsoe on hand, the Suns can still offer a boatload of value to a team ready to move on from their disgruntled star.

  • A likely top 3 draft pick in 2017, an historically loaded draft
  • A starting small forward (T.J. Warren) or center (Alex Len) before their prime who can replace the starts/minutes of the outgoing star
  • A 2016 top-10 pick in Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss
  • A 2018 potential lottery pick (Miami’s or the Suns’)
  • other serviceable parts as needed to complete the package

The absolute prize of this whole package is the 2017 draft pick, one that could be a franchise point guard (Markell Fulz, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith) or a franchise small forward (Jason Tatum, Jonathan Isaac or Josh Jackson).

Sure, Boston has a better package at every level.

They could offer a better 2017 pick (the Nets’ currently slotted #1 overall), a better “right now” starting-quality player (Jae Crowder), a potentially better 2016 pick and future small forward replacement (Jaylen Brown, #3 overall in 2016), and better future picks (the Net’s 2018 top pick and right to swap 2019).

But there’s only one Boston, and there’s no indication Boston would surrender all those assets at once.

What potentially puts the Suns ahead of Boston, for example, is that Boston won’t want to part with just about the only draft pick better than the Suns’ - the top overall pick, pre-lottery, from the Nets. It’s a lot easier to trade the 2-4 pick than it is the likely #1 overall.

If the top 2017 pick is off the table, then is Boston’s total package better than the Suns’ anymore?

And even IF Boston is willing to offer the best package, there are potentially THREE big stars on the block for the right price.

The Pelicans are the other team being mentioned, but their potential trade package pales in comparison to the Suns and Celtics. The Pelicans’ potential 2017 top pick is worse than the Suns or Celtics, and their top 2016 pick (Buddy Hield) is only roughly similar to Bender and Chriss. And going forward, the Pelicans have their OWN future picks, but no others to include like the Suns and Celtics do. So that’s by far the worst potential offer.

Then again, if all three are on the move, the Pelicans might be able to slip in there for the third best package. Or if Boston backs out of giving away their top 2017 pick, the Pelicans might be in second place.

The Suns certainly want to make a big move, per McDonough to Doug Haller of azcentral.com

Eric Bledsoe is playing great and at 27, he’s just starting to enter his prime. If we can find either draft picks or players between 19 and 27 that fit within the core of our group that we think will be able to add to what we’re doing stylistically, we’ll look at that.

Over the four years I've been here, we've continued to position ourselves to make a deal like that. I think we're there now. Honestly, I don't know if up until this point we were there.

We're on the short list of teams that have players, picks and cap space to put together a package that would be attractive for that. Those are things we'll certainly look at over the next week.

The Suns would do well to acquire any of Jimmy Butler, Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins to team with Bledsoe, Booker and one of Chriss/Bender for the future.

Would that core win a playoff series? Maybe. Probably.

Buckle up, Suns fans! It could be an interesting week.

The Phoenix Suns have a lot of potential moves to make

A quick primer on the Suns options (and our recommendations!) for the NBA trade deadline.

Posted by Bright Side of the Sun on 12hb Januari 2017