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With Denver reportedly dangling pick No. 14 alongside Kenneth Faried, should the Suns dial them up?

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Set up with assets from Milwaukee and Miami alongside all of their own moving forward, Phoenix can strike while the iron is hot and do Denver a solid while acquiring another lottery pick. Is it worth it?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next few weeks, rumors will begin to pick up with frenetic pace with the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21 but one actually has reason for it happening. Sitting with pieces of their young core ready for major paydays soon, the Denver Nuggets might need to punt their lottery pick away for cash purposes.

Pushed up to the edge with little flexibility before re-signing Nikola Jokic to his max extension and hopes of agreeing on a new deal with unrestricted free agent Will Barton, Kenneth Faried will need to be moved for that to occur. The thing is, Faried’s value has been slim to none since Denver first put him on the trade block back in 2016. And the early indicators are their No. 14 pick will have to be surrendered in order to swerve high paying luxury tax.

As Locked On Nuggets host Adam Mares pointed on his podcast recently, the Nuggets would be paying close to $50 million in luxury tax if Jokic, Barton, and Faried are all on next year’s roster. However, if they sign Barton to a contract around $9 million annually and move Faried they will fall all the way down towards only $7.5 million in tax owed. The repeater tax clock would start on Denver, but it avoids recklessly paying six times that amount with Faried on board.

Teams like Brooklyn, Sacramento, and even Indiana might be chomping at the bit of doing this move in order to acquire cheap, young talent but are the aggressive-minded Suns willing to join as well? All four have enough salary to absorb Faried’s expiring contract of $13.7 million while paying around $2.5 million for the 14th pick.

Mares alluded to on Locked On Nuggets that this example deal could get it done from Denver’s point of view: Faried + No. 14 for 2019 1st (top 20 protected). If I’m GM Ryan McDonough, I’m dialing up the Nuggets to check on possible framework to work this deal out. Armed with Milwaukee pick which is likely to convey in 2020 from the Eric Bledsoe trade, that alone could be enough for Denver.

It almost seems like highway robbery, doesn’t it? Acquiring not only a lottery pick but also an energetic big on an expiring contract who can at least contribute 20-25 minutes per game?

For Phoenix, who needs to add more veteran talent to this roster anyways, Faried fits that direction. McDonough said at the end of season media availability that they were preaching competition in exit interviews.

If that’s the case, throwing Faried into the mix at forward alongside Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender would hopefully be the wake up call they need. Faried didn't see much of any consistent playing time under Mike Malone last season but he’s someone who can provide double-digit points and constant hustle plays.

Again, especially only on an expiring, that’s something that still allows the Suns to dip their toes back into free agency next summer for bigger names as Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley’s contracts also wipe off their books. It’s entirely possible the Suns could be in position of having two max contract slots in 2019, if all goes to plan this summer revolving around the draft and free agency.

When crunching the numbers on acquiring Faried and another first round selection, Phoenix would be sitting at $92.2 million in total salary. Add in the contract for Deandre Ayton or Luka Doncic and that’s right at the max amount of room.

With the cap at $101 million, that signals Phoenix would still need to swing another deal or two if they wanted to still have enough room to pursue the likes of Clint Capela, Aaron Gordon, Derrick Favors, etc. Names like Chandler, Dudley, and even T.J. Warren could be pushed out the door early, were this to actually occur.

Also, Faried’s arrival and salary relief after 2019 could allow them to move off one of Chriss or Bender early, if they wanted to begin prioritizing ones development over another.

Lets say the Suns were set on the idea of Ayton and then trading for Kemba Walker. If that’s the case, creating a package revolving around Warren and Chriss/Bender alongside one first rounder (either No. 14 or 16) likely gets the job done, especially when odds are heavily in favor for one of Collin Sexton or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to be on board at No. 11.

Another route could be using Nos. 14 and 16, plus whatever else is needed, to move up into the top half of this year’s lottery. Prospects like Michael Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., Mikal Bridges, Mohamed Bamba, and Trae Young could all fit that possibility. If this was the path chosen by Phoenix, maybe after acquiring Denver’s pick they dial up Memphis (No. 4) or Dallas (No. 5) to see how much it would take to move all the way up there.

There have been whispers about both teams being open to moving back to help restore their future, and the Suns are in prime position to help accommodate either one.

Dallas could see this as very appealing: No. 14, No. 16, No. 31, 2019 1st, Milwaukee 1st. You read that right, four first rounders and one atop the second, but that’s what it would take with the elite crop at the top when Boston still couldn’t convince Charlotte to move back for Frank Kaminsky.

The big thing there is that the Suns only sacrifice one valuable pick of their own next year but also keep the unprotected 2021 Miami pick in their backpacker for later use. By far, that’s the asset Phoenix needs to avoid using as that could be their disgruntled superstar chip over the next few offseasons.

Whether it’s helping to move up or accumulate assets for win-now deals, the Suns are one of the best fits for Denver to find a win-win relationship out of this.

Either way you slice it, the Suns would be over the cap and would need to likely say goodbye to names like Warren and Chriss/Bender for them to maintain some semblance of flexibility this summer. (Moving Warren + Chriss down to $98 million, Dudley down to $87.7 million {around $14 million in cap room} in Faried/Walker scenario; Faried/trade up scenario lands them at $103.8 million needing to create more flexibility via trade)

For fun, lets say they go in the Walker direction. Here’s how it shook out when picturing in one draft selection maintained alongside possible free agent signings.

Before I show you that, here are the trade details observed in this three-way deal involving Phoenix, Denver, and Charlotte.

Suns receive: Walker, Faried

Nuggets receive: No. 31 (via Suns), 2020 Milwaukee pick (via Suns)

Hornets receive: No. 14 (via Nuggets), Warren, Chriss/Bender (in this scenario Sexton is drafted to replace Walker at No. 11)

Outside of Chandler and Faried’s contracts, just over $27 million total washing off in 2019, this would be the main core of their roster for the foreseeable future outside of having quality pick and player assets (unless deals they gave out this summer were bloated 1-year ones) for obtaining maybe a long term answer at the 4 spot.

PG: Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight, Tyler Ulis

SG: Devin Booker, Danny Green, Davon Reed

SF: Josh Jackson, Troy Brown (No. 16), Doug McDermott

PF: Dragan Bender / Marquese Chriss, Kenneth Faried, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

C: Deandre Ayton, Tyson Chandler, Alan Williams

2 Way: Shaquille Harrison, Alec Peters

Being aggressive has been the Suns’ main idea for awhile now, and Denver could help them kickstart the process by obtaining another first round pick to help ensure whichever direction they want to go on draft night. And with the amount of anticipation in Phoenix revolving around June 21, they could be setting themselves up like Minnesota to be the ones most talked about afterwards.

There would be plenty of hoops to jump through, but this scenario might actually work out in the Suns’ favor. After breaking off talks with Denver around Bledsoe for what turned into the place Utah moved up for Donovan Mitchell, maybe they finish one up this time around.

This scenario laid out above is just one of many directions the offseason could go in for Phoenix. With ample amounts of asset ammo, it’s time for the Suns to strike while the iron is hot this offseason on establishing their win-now culture.

Poll

Would you trade for Kenneth Faried + No. 14 pick?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Yes, then package 14 and 16 to move up in draft
    (884 votes)
  • 18%
    Yes, then use picks for win-now veteran piece
    (259 votes)
  • 19%
    No, not worth the hassle on flexibility right now
    (277 votes)
1420 votes total Vote Now