Tick tock, tick tock.
Only a few hours left until the trade deadline buzzer sounds and the Phoenix Suns roster is (largely) set for the rest of a season in which they either need to swap their 2017 pick for a star or lose enough games to draft their next star in June.
Those are the only two options that should be considered.
Any deals that don’t either dramatically improve the top end of the roster’s talent base (Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Andre Drummond, or even Derrick Favors) or divest the roster of some veterans for a youth-filled and losing-filled 25 games, or BOTH, should be not only rejected but laughed at.
Unfortunately, trade deadline day is not exactly trader-Ryan’s best day of the year.
The Suns have a long history of trade deadline deals and no one covers it better than our own Scott Howard, who these days dishes his special brand of insights exclusively on Twitter.
But back in the day, Scott used to regale us with fun tales of yesteryear, including this Trade Deadline History piece from 1988 to 2013, from Kevin Johnson to Joe Johnson to Hamed Haddadi to Marcus Morris. You HAVE to read this. You’re not working hard today anyway, so take a few minutes to click that link and consume a bit of Suns lore.
Enter Ryan McDonough, who’d executed four trades in his first summer to reshape the Suns roster into a winning program right out of the gate. It seemed that his specialty was getting picks for players (much like today’s edict).
The unexpectedly successful 2013-14 team entered the All-Star Break in playoff position, but had lost Eric Bledsoe for a couple months, and had the expiring (when those were cool) contract of Emeka Okafor to deal for a playable veteran to join the fun squad.
At one point, Pau Gasol was rumored to be a target, but the Suns never pulled the trigger and the deadline came and went.
Eventually, the Suns faded out of playoff contention but not until the final few days of the season.
“Oh god.” Those were roughly the words of the great Adrian Wojnarowski when few teams did anything of significance leading up to the deadline and then all of a sudden everyone made a deal as the clock struck 1:00 PM AZ time.
Celtics president Danny Ainge recently mused about that day, how “good friend” McDonough had been holding out for more return for Isaiah Thomas for months, but then with an hour to go had relented to accept a late first-round pick for IT.
At the same time, McDonough was closing a deal to trade impending unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic to Miami after being held hostage once Dragic insisted on a trade two days prior and giving the Suns only one real option (later it came out that everyone knew Dragic would only resign with a few teams if traded to them, so the offers were weak). That McDonough got two lightly protected first round picks out of the deal was a coup, though the first won’t be realized until 2018.
At the SAME TIME as those deals, McDonough separately closed on a deal to acquire Brandon Knight for a couple of youngish spare parts and the Lakers’ highly coveted, lightly protected pick.
Before that day, McDonough’s Suns record was 76-59.
Since that day, his record is 51-116.
Meanwhile, the Lakers or Sixers will enjoy that lightly protected Laker pick this June while the Suns wait until next year.
This is “Keef Day” around these parts.
The Suns finally traded Markieff Morris after he helped tank his team’s start to an otherwise promising season by shooting less than 40% from the field and generally lacking any fire when he played.
Marcin Gortat recently said Suns fans and media were too harsh on Keef, who was struggling with off-court issues (except they were self-imposed) and struggling with losing his brother (except that the NBA is a business!).
Now the Polish Hammer is calling him and Keef “The Phoenix Outlaws” as they share the front line for a surging Wizards team looking to get back to the playoffs.
You and Marcin can say Keep has been freed and is now playing the best of his career, but that would objectively be wrong. Keef’s numbers are all down on a per-36 basis from his promising 2013-14 season coming off the bench. Like his brother in Detroit, his numbers are inflated by big minutes.
Meanwhile, the Suns turned Keef’s booty into Marquese Chriss, who just won Rookie of the Month in January and started for the Rising Stars US team last week on All-Star weekend.
What happens today?
McDonough is struggling with which way to go, playing at two different poker tables at the same time.
He finally HAS the assets to acquire a star, but so far came up short in his offer for DeMarcus Cousins this week (later, it was reported the Suns were lukewarm on Cousins, and wouldn’t trade any of their core for him).
Ramona Shelburne said on the Bickley and Marotta show yesterday that the deflated Cousins trade value might have hurt every deadline deal out there, as teams feel emboldened to offer less for stars in the hopes they can get them on the cheap like NOLA did with Boogie.
McD is one of them. He’s said he would acquire top-level talent in the 19-27 year old range if he could, and he’s supposedly still making offers for Andre Drummond (23), Derrick Favors (25), Paul George (26) and Jimmy Butler (27), all of whom fill huge needs at center and small forward of the future.
But deals like that will be up in the air until right at the 1:00 PM deadline, if they get traded at all. And his good buddy Danny Ainge has a better treasure chest of assets to offer than McDonough does.
The danger of staying in the “star” hunt is that you might lose an opportunity to trade away veterans for good assets in the mean time. The Suns still want to walk away with picks for vets if they can. P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight all can be had for something - the question is how much.
But if McD thinks he can include them in a deal for a star, and waits until the last second to take offers, there’s a chance he can be left holding the bag with nothing to show for it.
Stay tuned, Suns fans!
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