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Suns show patience seldom seen in Phoenix

After years of trying to stay competitive, the Suns show rare resolve to play for the highest draft pick they can get.

NBA: Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline was a relative dud for the Phoenix Suns.

Between the two small trades, the Suns acquired two players who will never wear Suns uniforms (Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott*), two small wads of cash and a pair of low second round picks while sending out four-time-defending Dan Majerle Hustle Award winner P.J. Tucker.

*Sullinger was a necessary salary-match from Toronto, and Scott was a way to reach the salary floor for the season. Both will be released, per Doug Haller of

Altogether, the Suns got a little bit worse today.

And that’s almost exactly what they were SUPPOSED to do.

P.J. Tucker was dying a little bit each day inside when he couldn’t will the Suns to wins. You could see it on his face. As much as he loved this team, he couldn’t stand the losses. Now he gets a chance to win games, see the playoffs, and earn his last payday this summer on the open market. Good for Peej.

Sure, there’s still the matter of being unable to find a taker for Brandon Knight, but even sixth man extraordinaire Lou Williams could only fetch a future #1 as long as the Lakers took back more salary than they sent out and potential center-of-the-future Nerlens Noel got barely more than the Suns got for Tucker.

It was a bad year for getting value in trading the best player in the deal, which is partly why none of the big names got traded after DeMarcus Cousins went to New Orleans for Buddy Hield and a pair of potentially-not-even-lottery picks on Sunday night. And teams were trying to get proper value for their stars, as they worry about overpaying in the new CBA world.

Yes, some teams made out like bandits and the Suns did not.

For sure, the Pelicans (Cousins), Mavericks (Noel), Thunder (Gibson, McDermott) and Raptors (Ibaka, Tucker) all did well this past week without giving up equal value.

But no one else did much of anything positive for their team’s outlook, partly because of the disparate views of player value going around this week. And that includes the Suns.

On one hand, they failed to find a new home for Brandon Knight. But on the other, I wouldn’t want the Suns to take on an even bigger contract, or send out a pick, just to get rid of him at the very lowest point of his career. He has not been a locker room disruption at all, and might just rebound in the season’s final games to repair a bit of value this summer when there’s more time to deal.

On another hand, they failed to turn Tyson Chandler’s resurgent season into any value, and there were rumors of Portland being interested in Chandler until they acquired Jusuf Nurkic instead. But remember the parameters of that Blazers trade? The Blazers wanted to rid themselves of Mason Plumlee ahead of his RFA status, and the Nuggets had to include a first round pick in the deal along with Nurkic. I would rather have Tyson Chandler for two more seasons than a dual Plumlee/Len RFA offseason where the Suns feel compelled to give one of them market money ($20 million per year for 4 years?) AND have to give up a future #1 pick in the trade too. No thanks.

The market out there this week was weak.


Now the Suns have one fewer old guy fighting for minutes. Tucker’s 28 minutes will be distributed among Jared Dudley (backup at both PF and SF now), T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss and even Dragan Bender when/if he gets healthy. There’s also minutes available for Derrick Jones Jr., though he’s not quite ready for the NBA, and Devin Booker when Watson wants to go to a three-guard lineup.

Hopefully, Watson also finds more time for Tyler Ulis in this second half, while he juggles minutes of veterans Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Leandro Barbosa. Likely by March, we will see a reduction in minutes from those guys while Ulis gets more run.

The rotation is simpler now, without Tucker.

They won’t win many games, but then again they can’t just lean on Tucker to carry them defensively anymore, which obviously wasn't working anyway.

And now we can just count the days until the June draft when the Suns find out who will lead this team back to the playoffs someday. Will it be Lonzo Ball? Markell Fultz? Josh Jackson? Or someone else? Get to know very well.

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