ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that the Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey is willing to trade any of his players besides James Harden to improve his team. After two tough playoff losses to the Warriors, the Rockets have seemingly hit a wall and Morey is trying aggressively to break out of it. The only way he can do that is by trading since his two best players (James Harden and Chris Paul) take up about 70% of the cap.
With Harden in his prime and all the rumors surrounding Kevin Durant leaving for New York, Morey knows this might be his best time to win a championship against his west coast rival.
The Suns have plenty of deficiencies in its roster, one of its biggest holes is the team’s poor defensive play. The Suns can tackle this issue by trading for P.J. Tucker.
Tucker is one of the most versatile defenders in the league, able to guard all over the court. A former Sun, he’s still well liked by the fans in Phoenix and his veteran presence would be great for this team. You could put him at the four and let him be a defensive specialist, something the Suns have been in desperate need for since his departure. Tucker’s contract isn’t too ludicrous, only having $16 million left with two years remaining (the last one only partially guaranteed at $2.5 million).
The problem with trading for Tucker is that nearly every playoff contender would love to have him. Sure, the Suns have a lot of young assets to trade but the Rockets aren’t trying to rebuild, it’s trying to retool. Josh Jackson wouldn’t have the same trade value to the Rockets as perhaps the Pelicans or the Grizzlies. The Suns shouldn’t give up a lot for a 34 year old defensive specialist and if the price gets too high, no need to force the trade. Tucker is a win now addition to any team and the Suns aren’t in that mode, probably won’t be in that mode for another two-three years.
Other than Tucker, there’s no one else besides maybe Eric Gordon the Suns should think about trading for with Houston. Chris Paul’s injury history and contract makes him virtually untradable. James Harden isn’t going to be traded, no matter how much is offered to Houston. Clint Capela plays the same position as Deandre Ayton so that’s not going to happen.
The only other Rocket the Suns might want is Eric Gordon and that itself isn’t likely. Gordon and Devin Booker would make for an excellent offensive backcourt with Gordon also serving as a veteran in such a young locker room. Gordon’s ability to attack offensively has made him a tough challenge to face and with Booker, the two could be dynamic. His contract also expires so he wouldn’t take up the same cap hit as Paul. The point guard problem will still exist as neither have been able to thrive in that role before.
The Suns will most likely be in the trade market this offseason and have plenty of assets to trade to improve the team. Tucker can serve as a defensive specialist for the team along with a veteran that can help this very young team back on track. But if the Rockets get greedy, the smartest move is to just walk away.