In the midst of another horrific season for the Phoenix Suns, expect them to take calls from contenders at February’s trade deadline compared to going out and improving their own roster.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix will be one of the biggest sellers alongside Atlanta and Cleveland. All three of these teams are in the top five for highest 2019 lottery odds, so it’s easy to see their main intentions from Wojnarowski’s intel.
The expectation league-wide is that there will be plenty more buyers than sellers anyways, especially when you see the amount of teams still in the thick of it out West.
“Right now, there’s still a lot more buyers — which means teams who think they can make the playoffs, advance in the playoffs — versus sellers,” Wojnarowski said of the overall marketplace heading into the Feb. 7 deadline. “Teams who see themselves in the lottery. Teams that are tanking. Teams that want to get off contracts.”
At the moment, with a record of 11-40, Phoenix has no real reason to be an actual buyer unless they feel immense inside pressure or want to finally solve their longstanding point guard problems. Only 1.5 games out of the top spot in the reverse standings, it’s quite possible Phoenix has googly eyes about the possibility of Duke’s Zion Williamson capping off their rebuild like the rest of the bottom-feeding teams do.
“Among the sellers in the league right now: Atlanta, Cleveland, Phoenix,” Wojnarowksi said. “Then you got teams like Orlando who are trying to figure out what they are. They’d like to make the playoffs.”
After buying out the big expiring salaries of Tyson Chandler and Austin Rivers, Phoenix doesn’t have much to offer around the league. Honestly, the Suns’ biggest trade chip over the next week-plus might be Troy Daniels. Though he’s averaging his lowest amount of minutes since 2015, Daniels’ shooting prowess would be a coveted skill set for winning teams who feel just a few small moves away.
None of these places have been mentioned as suitors for Daniels, but all of the following could easily slide in a career 40 percent three-point shooter: Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Indiana, Boston, Milwaukee and San Antonio.
Who else on the Suns’ roster could be on the move, if they really are on par with Cleveland for wanting to get off contracts? How about Dragan Bender and Jamal Crawford? Bender might somehow be able to fetch Phoenix a future second-round pick, while Crawford seems like a prime candidate to hit the buyout market sometime over the next month.
Other options to keep an eye for Phoenix, deals that extend past this season, are Ryan Anderson and T.J. Warren. The Suns would love to get off Anderson’s contract guaranteed $15.6 million for 2019-20, but, if not, all indications are they will use the stretch provision (Anderson would be paid $5.2 million per year through 2022 if he’s stretched). One way or another, Anderson won’t be a member of the Suns past this season.
According to a league source, Suns majority owner Robert Sarver advised former general manager Ryan McDonough to unload Warren’s long-term contract off their books during the summer of 2018. Warren, who signed a 4-year, $50 million ($47 million guaranteed with $3 million worth of incentives) extension last October, is currently sidelined for 2-3 weeks with recurring right ankle soreness.
Is it possible the Suns have pivoted off that supposed stance since then? Maybe, but with the Kelly Oubre Jr. trade and already having Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges on the roster, Warren seems like the wing who will eventually be the one left out. If the Suns really want to find an upgrade at point guard, Warren is the best trade chip they have outside of their own first-round pick.
With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, stay tuned to Bright Side Of The Sun as we’ll keep you updated on the latest news and rumors.