A new report from Sports Illustrated indicates as much, as the Suns’ interest in Jarrett Culver is matched by other franchises in the top 10 and could make it difficult for the leader of the Red Raiders’ national finalist squad to fall to No. 6.
From Woo’s latest mock draft (linked above):
“According to league sources, Atlanta has been angling to move up in the draft by packaging their various picks, and continue to explore possibilities there. Their primary target would seem to be Jarrett Culver, and they would likely have to get ahead of Phoenix to get him.”
This possibility lurked in the background of Atlanta’s deal last week to acquire the No. 17 pick in exchange for taking on Allen Crabbe’s salary. It never made much sense for the Hawks to add three first-round picks from a weaker class after nabbing three rookies last year as well, with firsts from Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Brooklyn incoming as well.
The Hawks also have the 34th, 41st and 44th picks in this year’s draft. They would be silly not to try to consolidate some of those picks and move up to draft someone they like. Unfortunately, if that player is Culver, it will be difficult for the Suns to get him.
More from Woo:
“According to league sources, the Suns are known to be extremely high on Jarrett Culver, and while this spot is his realistic floor, he may not make it this far. According to reports, the Suns have been weighing trading this pick, but it does seem likely that either White or Darius Garland will be available at this spot, which would give then a chance to address their long-standing hole at point guard.”
As I wrote over the weekend, the Suns don’t have the assets to win a bidding war against Atlanta if Travis Schlenk and his front office are committed to moving into the top five. And in reality, despite the excitement surrounding Culver as a prospect, he may not be worth using the future Bucks’ first-rounder, the last of the Suns’ extra assets, to acquire.
It brings up a larger question of how the Suns view this summer. Will general manager James Jones use this offseason as a time to revamp the roster completely in an effort to take the first step back to relevancy in 2019-20, or will he continue to be patient, making minor tweaks to lift the floor of the team rather than overhauling everything?
If the answer is the latter, Jones could opt to go all-in on draft night again and come away with another young, versatile wing. That type of move paid off massively for the Suns last summer when they came away with Mikal Bridges. To do another deal like this would force the Suns’ hand in decluttering their wing rotation in free agency, but they may see Culver as too good to pass up.
Of course, the looming possibility of dealing the sixth pick for a veteran playmaker and getting out of the first round completely still faces Jones and the Suns.
The questions hanging over this draft for Phoenix are bigger than just one player over another. Jones is being faced with broader implications about how he wants to build this team, now that Atlanta is getting aggressive and the Anthony Davis trade rumors are heating up.
Will the Suns be passive bystanders and pick up whomever falls to No. 6, or try to reclaim control over their draft-night fate with a trade?