When the Suns acquired Mikal Bridges last night, they closed the door on both the Steve Nash AND Goran Dragic trades.
“It’s bizarre,” Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough says today.
Let’s take a short walk down memory lane.
Back in July 2012, the Suns managing partner Robert Sarver brokered a trade of the aging Steve Nash to his desired destination with the Lakers. The Suns got back two second round picks and two first round picks.
Those picks — not the assets acquired for them — had not amounted to much, until Thursday night.
But then again, Nash didn’t amount to much with the Lakers. Nash barely played for the Lakers after being traded there in 2012, saddled with myriad strains and pulls and back issues before finally retiring after his contract expired three years later.
Initially, the Suns turned one of the Laker picks into Archie Goodwin a year later (2013) and then one of the second round picks (Alex Oriahki) was used in the Isaiah Thomas trade two years after that. Not that Oriahki was key to the trade, but he was an asset that could be used in swap per league rules.
Neither Goodwin nor Thomas amounted to much as Suns. Thomas was later traded for a late-first round pick, which was later traded among other assets to acquire Marquese Chriss in 2016.
The key asset in the Nash trade was that lightly protected future Lakers pick. Except that the Lakers were so bad they kept it in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Finally the pick conveyed this year... as the 10th overall pick. SIX YEARS after the Nash trade was consummated.
The Suns swapped rights to that Laker pick in February 2015 to acquire young point guard Brandon Knight, a 23 year old who was coming off a stretch in Milwaukee where he was considered on the cusp of All-Star caliber. But three years later, saddled with injuries and other issues, he’s been little more than a “coulda-been” for the Suns.
“We’ve been heavily criticized for trading that pick, and I understand some of that,” McDonough said today.
That same day in February 2015, the Suns traded point guard Goran Dragic to Miami for picks in 2018 and 2021.
Much like that Steve Nash trade, the Suns swapped a current player for “years down the road” assets. And once again, the furthest-out pick (2021... SIX YEARS after the Dragic trade was consummated) was seen as the best asset, given its unprotected status and the chance Miami could be really bad by then and the pick could be a high one..
Fast-forward to present day, June 2018.
That last Laker pick turned out to be the 10th pick in the 2018 Draft, where Philadelphia selected swingman Mikal Bridges.
The first Dragic/Miami pick turned out to be the 16th pick in the 2018 Draft, where the Suns were ready to select swingman Zhaire Smith or Bridges’ teammate Donte DiVincenzo.
Until the Sixers called and accepted the Suns trade offer to swap 10 and 16, as long as the Suns included that unprotected 2021 pick.
When the Suns said yes, they’d effectively tied the Nash and Dragic trades into a tight bow.
McDonough had traded both Dragic picks (2018 and 2021) for the last elusive Nash pick (2018).
They turned Goran Dragic into three years of purgatory followed by at least four (maybe 9+) years of a top-10 pick in Mikal Bridges.
And he closed the door on that Steve Nash trade, with the return being... Brandon Knight and a little piece (the arm?) of Marquese Chriss.
When did McD realize what he’d done?
“After I did it,” he said. “Because I don’t think in those terms. I think it was actually when I was taking the elevator down from the office to the media room for the press conference I said ‘oh okay’.”
He started putting all the pieces together as he approached the media room.
“Yeah that was funny,” he said with a chuckle. “Three and a half years later, comes full circle.”