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Mailbag: Will the Suns finally address their point guard need before the trade deadline?

We hit on point guard options like Lonzo Ball, D’Angelo Russell, and plenty more in our pre-deadline mailbag.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With less than a week until the Feb. 7 trade deadline, plenty of flurries left and right have been happening throughout the NBA as player empowerment reaches an all-time high. Not only have we seen Anthony Davis finally request a trade out of New Orleans, but Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis was suddenly dealt from New York to Dallas within an hour after reports mentioned he was not happy with the organization’s direction.

Following these two dominoes, what should we expect by Thursday? Craziness, that’s exactly what you should be envisioning if this past week was any indication of what’s to come.

It’s been over a year now since the Phoenix Suns traded Eric Bledsoe, but still haven’t filled that crater-sized hole in the backcourt alongside Devin Booker. Will that change over the next few days?

Many readers asked about plenty of point guard options, along with power forwards, so let’s dive into it below.

I would hope not, but we’ll have to find out by Thursday afternoon. If I had to lean one way or another, I would say the Suns do finally get a point guard one way or another. Preferably, that first option would be acquiring someone along the lines of Lonzo Ball or Mike Conley, but even a stopgap like Elfrid Payton was last season would help stabilize the point guard depth.

Here are five realistic names to keep in mind leading up to Thursday, in my opinion: Ball, Cory Joseph, Darren Collison, Milos Teodosic, and Delon Wright. Outside of Ball, the rest are players who likely won’t be around past these next few months.

That wouldn’t be the best idea. Anderson, who’s salary was reduced to $15.6 million upon agreeing to join Phoenix, was planned to be stretched all along unless they found a taker. Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones should be calling around this week trying to get off Anderson’s contract, but it will take a hefty price.

If the Suns were to stretch Anderson, they would still have $28.2 million in cap space for this summer (Kelly Oubre Jr. and Richaun Holmes’ cap holds included), but his $5.2 million would remain on their books through 2022. Expect that’s the route they’ll go in July with Anderson unless they use his salary paired with picks to get their long-term point guard or power forward aboard.

Unless the Nets truly think they have a shot at landing two max free agents, D’Angelo Russell will be back there next season. However, don’t be surprised if the Suns do make an aggressive play for him in restricted free agency. Aggressive to the tune of a near-max offer sheet.

Russell just earned his first All-Star nod, and over the month of January he was one of the best players in the Eastern Conference averaging 23.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists (+2.7 AST/TO), and 1.3 steals while shooting 41.3 percent on three-pointers.

Look for Brooklyn to get off Allen Crabbe’s contract by the deadline using one of their three first-round picks this year. Once Crabbe is gone, Brooklyn easily has enough wiggle room to sign Russell up to his maximum plus sign another big-time free agent.

Pairing Russell with Booker would bring fireworks in the backcourt, but you would have to rely on Mikal Bridges, Oubre Jr., Josh Jackson, and De’Anthony Melton to take even bigger leaps defensively next season.

Would you be comfortable paying Russell around the same starting salary as Booker for 2019-20, Suns fans? That might be what it takes to make Brooklyn even hesitate about not wanting Russell back for the long-term.


Would you sign D’Angelo Russell to a max offer sheet?

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The Suns have been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league for a few years now, and even Deandre Ayton’s arrival hasn’t helped much with that category. Last night against Atlanta, John Collins matched the same number of offensive rebounds (10) as the Suns’ whole team. That’s embarrassing, and it speaks to how important power forward is becoming for this upcoming offseason. It is quickly becoming 1B to the point guard position’s 1A.

Love has a scary injury history, though, and had a huge contract behind him. Unless Jones, a good friend of Love’s, wants to bring him aboard after swinging and missing on multiple options this summer out of desperation, it doesn’t make much sense. Love’s age puts him way off the timeline in age discrepancy, plus there’s legitimate questions whether he’s now an overpriced stretch four who won’t play 82-game seasons.

The contract for Love runs through 2022-23 and could quickly turn into an albatross by 2020. However, if the Suns were interested in Love, the likely price would be something like Anderson, Warren, and the Bucks pick. Not much for Cleveland, but that contract won’t be able to get them anything significant in return.

It was reported yesterday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Pelicans aren’t shopping Jrue Holiday. That’s a big blow for how I saw the Suns’ point guard plans playing out, but there luckily is other options.

Speaking of acquiring both Ball and Nikola Mirotic, it would go like this: 1.) Trade for Ball now to help faciliate Anthony Davis to Los Angeles; 2.) Sign Nikola Mirotic to big bucks as an unrestricted free agent. First off, I don’t see the point in trading for Mirotic now since he could walk in the summer, but Ball is a different question.

If the Suns were to trade for Ball in the next five days, they would still have around $20 million in space (ex: Warren and Jackson for Ball and Solomon Hill) which is more than enough to attract someone of Mirotic’s caliber.

And really a starting lineup of Ball, Booker, Bridges, Mirotic, and Ayton could make legitimate noise as one of the most improved teams during 2019-20.

This is tough, and it should worry you long-term when factoring in Booker if Phoenix can’t turn this thing around soon. When the new CBA comes into play, how should the NBA’s owners try to fix this? It’s apparent players control the narrative unlike ever before, so maybe you go a few different routes.

The best case I could offer the NBA is offering longer contracts after the rookie extension. At the moment, the longest teams can go is five years, which usually is converted to four with a player option. For teams to get back more in case of eventual ask-outs, why not let contracts be longer? Instead of five, why not let it be eight? That seems to make the most sense while also raising salary percentages for bigger contracts.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported over the weekend that Chicago was now listening to offers on Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. Honestly, it’s not much of a surprise when you see how they don’t really fit in with Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr. Also, they are definitely in the thick of the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.

Dunn is averaging 12 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists (+2.5 AST/TO), and 1.5 steals in 31 minutes while shooting 35.6 percent from deep. The more I think about it, the more he could make sense a flyer Jones and Co. could take if other routes dry up this week. Dunn would be reminiscent of the Payton trade last year as a failed project in one city Phoenix then tries to rehabilitate for the last 30 or so games.

As far as value I would send back Chicago’s way for Dunn, it wouldn’t be much. Like Payton, nothing more than just their 2019 second-round pick plus salary filler (Dragan Bender or Troy Daniels are the most logical answers). If all other possibilities fail, Dunn wouldn’t be bad but he is also on the books for next season at $5.3 million.

Yes, I do expect the Suns to at least make one move. If the over/under was set at 0.5, I would smash the over button continuously. Whether it’s being buyers or sellers, Phoenix is going to do something. If not, this season could really spiral out of control if nothing is done by the Suns’ front office.

If I had to list the likes outcomes, here’s what I would go with:

  1. Suns help facilitate Davis to LA for Ball
  2. Suns sell off Daniels to contender in need of shooting
  3. Suns trade Warren for another option at point guard

The Suns will be active on Thursday, at least let’s hope so.

Zion Williamson is the best college prospect since Anthony Davis. I know that will ruffle some feathers, but it’s a true statement. Williamson’s floor is looking more and more like Blake Griffin, which is absolutely nuts. Take a look at how Williamson compares to a sophomore Blake Griffin at Oklahoma. Remember, Zion is only 18.

Williamson: 27.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.5 steals, and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes; 70.4 TS%, 16.5 REB%, 17.1 AST%, 28.3 USG%, 5.3 WS

Griffin: 24.5 points, 15.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes; 64.8 TS%, 24 REB%, 16.3 AST%, 30.8 USG%, 9.7 WS

If the Suns were to luck into lottery luck for back-to-back years, Williamson would help fill plenty of holes currently on the roster. Whether it’s secondary playmaking, rebounding, secondary rim protection, scoring, effort, and culture-changing, Williamson has it all.

Stay tuned for a Williamson film study coming on Bright Side Of The Sun next week. With the Suns possibly staring 15 straight losses (22 of their last 24) right in the face by the All-Star break, Williamson’s name will continue to garner bigger buzz as the reverse standings become more jam-packed.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, that wouldn’t be enough. Davis and Booker, two former Kentucky Wildcats, would definitely become a dynamic duo, but the cost would be gigantic.

Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps won’t let go of Davis, especially to Phoenix, unless it’s starting with Ayton and their 2019 first-round pick unprotected. On top of that, throw in Warren and either Jackson or Bridges to make salaries work and you’re looking at gutting the entire young core for 18 months of Davis.

It wouldn’t be smart, but who knows how desperate this front office could be when factoring in the arms race taking place as we speak throughout the Western Conference?

Well, that does it for our pre-trade deadline mailbag. What do you expect to happen with the Suns once Thursday evening approaches? For me, I expect an eventual deadline with plenty of league-wide movement but my eyes will be squared on Phoenix to see what stance they end up taking.

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