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Trade Deadline Roundtable: Which Phoenix Suns trade is best? Which is most likely?

Surveying our writers on what the Suns can and should do ahead of the NBA trade deadline.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We are just a day away from the 2021 trade deadline, and we can’t wait to see what the Suns do to improve their chances at that elusive NBA championship! After blowing out Miami on Tuesday night, the Suns are now 29-13 with almost 23 of the season gone. They have the league’s 3rd best overall record, and 2nd best in the West.

But only two of the team’s most important players, Chris Paul and Jae Crowder, have any real playoff experience, so you’ve got to wonder if they can hold up under the pressure in April, May and June.

The NBA’s mid-season trade deadline is tomorrow, Thursday March 25, after which a team can only sign free agents the rest of the season.

Will the Suns shake up the team to make a big trade that might just put them over the top?

Or will they nibble around the edges, trying to improve an already-good bench with even-better talent?

Or, will they just stand pat and decide to roll with the team as it is?

Yesterday, I gave you all the rules around NBA trades and how that impacts the Suns in 2021. I showed you what can work and what cannot work. I went into detail on the why. Check it out here.

To summarize

  1. Almost certainly no first round picks to sweeten a deal
  2. Almost certainly no trade of Devin Booker or Chris Paul
  3. Almost certainly no more than minus-1 roster spots on the players traded (i.e. 1-for-1, 2-for-1, 3-for-2, etc.)

The Bright Side Staff put on their thinking caps and came up with some trades that they would like to see happen this week.


John Voita’s target: JaVale McGee

The cost: Carter and Moore

I really want to find a way for JaVale McGee to make his way into a Phoenix Suns uniform. I believe that he is an ideal big that will do nothing but assist this team and address our most glaring challenge: big man depth. Dario Saric, although a fantastic connector, isn’t the ideal backup five. If the Suns run into a team with numerous big bodies and Deandre Ayton finds himself in foul trouble, the Suns will struggle (see the games versus Minnesota).

McGee is set to be a free agent at the completion of this season and is currently under a very, very affordable $4.2M contract. Trading for him, from a financial aspect, would be easy. You could package end-of-the bench guards E’Twaun Moore and Jevon Carter and send them to Cleveland for McGee.

The challenge with this trade is the “would Cleveland want to make the deal” factor. They are currently starting Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in their backcourt, with off-season signee Damyean Dotson and 2nd-year player Dylan Windler playing the backup role. Does it make sense for them to trade their backup center for two more guards? Probably not. A guy can hope though, right?

If McGee becomes a buy out guy, however, he is my number one target for Phoenix.

Khaleel’s thoughts:

While McGee’s rim-protecting would be a welcome addition off the bench behind DA, I think he will likely be bought out. If that’s the case, I’d chase him even if he is a goofball. However, I would rather keep Jevon Carter, who should be playing more than he is.

Zona’s thoughts:

Totally agree with McGee being a good fit. He’s the exact change of pace big they need off the bench if they need to adjust to bigger teams. However, I would not trade for him due to my belief that he’s likely to enter the buyout market as you noted. Sidenote: He was playing Call of Duty on stream with Devin Booker less than a couple of weeks ago. (insert eye emoji)

Brendon’s thoughts:

No need to give anything up here. Chris Haynes of Yahoo! believes McGee can be had as a buyout guy, and so long as he has a legit role with the Suns (and I think he would), it shouldn’t be too hard to convince him to come to Phoenix.


Matthew Lissy’s target: Christian Wood

The cost: Dario Saric and Jevon Carter

I had to find a team that is willing to ready to completely start over. The Houston Rockets are one of the very few teams looking to do that. Christian Wood, who was just signed by the Rockets to a 3-yr $41M contract, but was very vocal about how much money he thinks he deserved. I wouldn't be surprised if Woods already thinks he deserves to play for a title contender.

Woods would like great at the four next to Deandre Ayton. He would take up all of Dario Saric minutes plus more. He seems like the high energy scorer the suns need at the four other than Brandon Ingram.

Khaleel’s thoughts:

I’m not sure the Rockets would deal Christian Wood for this package. If they will, I’d jump all over it. He would be a great answer at power forward. He’s come such a long way in his career and is a feel-good story as are the Suns. Good fit. I think Phoenix would have to throw in a first-round pick but even then I don’t know if that sweetens the pot enough for Houston. Again, if it does, do it. I’ll just be absent for a bit crying and missing Jevon.

Zona’s thoughts:

I find it very unlikely the Rockets pull the trigger on this trade. I like Christian Wood and think he would help Phoenix out in many ways, but I just can’t see it happening unless he demanded a trade or something, and even then there are other teams that could outbid Phoenix from an asset perspective.

Voita’s thoughts:

Oh Matthew, been playing a little too much 2k recently, eh? I kid, I kid. Matthew is right to think that Houston is in full on rebuild mode; they are the first team to lose at least 20 consecutive games since the 2015-16 76ers so anything is possible. I think the Rockets would like to cash in on Wood (if they were willing to move on from him) and gaining Saric and Carter isn’t exactly doing that.

Brendon’s thoughts:

No way. The Rockets just tried to trade for Aaron Gordon, hoping to improve their team, not get rid of the one All-Star caliber player left on their roster post-James Harden!


Brendon Kleen’s target: Patty Mills

The cost: Langston Galloway, Jevon Carter, Jalen Smith

The same as it’s been for a week or two now:

You are probably thinking it’s way too early to give up on Jalen Smith, but hear me out. It is really rare for rookies to not play much at all in their first season and then end up becoming high-level rotation players. There’s a chance trading Smith now would actually be doing so when his value is highest, and you’re able to get a great third guard like Patty Mills without giving up a draft pick!

As for Mills himself, he’s an elite shooter and is having a career year. Sure, his defense is suspect, but that’s true of Langston Galloway, who is getting minutes right now. And Mills is a smart off-ball player who can handle a bit and fits in a point-five offense like the one the Suns run. Where do you think Monty Williams got it from if not Pop?

Monty and Mills also know each other from back in Monty’s days in the San Antonio front office, and Monty has praised Mills before. Call it in!

Khaleel’s thoughts:

Sorry Brendon, I think I will have to pass on this one. I’m not as high on Mills as most and would rather play Jevon more (who I would hate to give to the Spurs). Yes, I understand Patty is a spark plug and could bring that fire off the bench. I’m just not ready to pull that trigger, especially when it means adding in Jalen Smith who we don’t really know what we have in yet.

Zona’s thoughts:

I’d be happy with this. Mills would be an excellent third guard that could play alongside each of Paul and Booker. He could also play off the ball next to Payne and provide a deadly scoring punch that they need in the second unit. He’s playoff-tested and would bring another veteran voice into the locker room. Trading Smith makes more sense than trading a future first for a bench upgrade in my opinion. Sign me up.

Voita’s thoughts:

Mills is an upgrade to all of the players involved in this deal, so it definitely makes sense. That’s the end goal: improve your team. My problem with this trade is a personal one: I don’t like Patty Mills. Perhaps it is for his part in the Great Mexico City Debacle of 2019. Outside of my personal anti-Mills feelings, this is a solid deal.


Khaleel’s target: Nerlens Noel

The cost: Abdel Nader, E’Twaun Moore and a second round pick

This gives the Suns the opportunity to add a solid piece to their rotation without giving up a key piece of their core. While I wouldn't be completely against doing that depending on the return, I think Phoenix should try hard to keep their main guys around. One of this team's biggest weaknesses is a rim protector and backup C behind Ayton. Noel is exactly that. And he is a former teammate of Chris Paul. For the Knicks, they have a crowded frontcourt rotation. Why not replace some of that with some wing depth? If they can add a scrappy vet and hustle guy as long as any sort of draft pick, they should. Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and the others can take over Noel's minutes.

Voita’s thoughts:

I like the addition of Nerlens Noel. I think he would add the big depth we are in dire need of. The challenge is, as Khaleel says, they have a crowded frontcourt. If the Knicks wasn't to trade a player, I doubt it’d be Noel. He has played in 38 games for the Knickerbockers and is 5th on the team in minutes played. That is a valuable asset to give up.

Zona’s thoughts:

This. would be a nice pickup for Phoenix, though I can’t see the Knicks dealing Noel. If they do decide to move him then I’d be all over it. Not a groundbreaking move, but he’d give them the reserve big presence and athleticism they need.

Brendon’s thoughts:

PROTECT ABDEL NADER


Zona’s target: Larry Nance Jr.

The cost: Jalen Smith, Jevon Carter, E’Twaun Moore

I would like to preface this with the fact that I think the best course of action would be for Phoenix to play the buy-out market and bring in a rim protector like a JaVale McGee for example. If the right situation presents itself though, then I’m all for an aggressive move to improve the bench rotation/depth for the playoffs.

If they are to make a trade where any significant pieces move, one name I’d love in both the long and short-term with is Larry Nance Jr. from Cleveland. He’s an elite role player that defends at a very high level and provides everything you want in a modern big. Runs the floor well, can shoot, pass and defend. He would fit right into Phoenix seamlessly. In this trade, you’d likely have to include a future 1st rounder to entice the Cavs, but I think it would be more than worth it.

Voita’s thoughts:

I love this deal. There has been plenty of “we want Nance” buzz on the internets recently and I think his addition adds plenty of athleticism to the team. The rookie Jalen Smith could sweeten the deal for Cleveland, but like my deal above to get JaVale McGee, I am not sure how willing the Cavs are to deal for more guards.

Brendon’s thoughts:

Return Nance to his rightful basketball home, grab a player who’s an even better stylistic fit (and makes less!) for the Suns than Aaron Gordon, and ride to a conference finals.

Khaleel’s thoughts:

Jr. belongs on the Suns, where his dad played long ago. I've cheered for him through his career, which felt really weird when he was a Laker and would be much easier to do if he came to Phoenix. He oozes athleticism, his highlight dunks would energize the fans as well as the team and he does a lot of other things really well on the court too. I would really enjoy this move, though again I would miss Coach Carter.


Dave’s Target: Lauri Markkanen

The cost: Jalen Smith, Jevon Carter

I’m simply not willing to break up a core that’s won 20 of their last 25 games and now has one of the league’s best records at 28-13. Recently we had Bobby Marks of ESPN (and former Nets exec) on the Solar Panel podcast and he agreed, saying that teams rarely want to break a core that has such good chemistry and results. He laughed when the idea of going “all in” was brought up, saying that there’s a better chance of hurting the team than improving it through a big trade right now.

So my available players are limited to the bottom ten on the roster making small salaries ($4.25 mill or less). And with the salary-matching issues, I’m stuck with finding a bargain.

Where to find a bargain?

After looking through the pending restricted free agents from the 2017 Draft, I settled on one guy who’s been a bit of a disappointment through his career but he’s more than worth his current salary.

Lauri Markkanen, taken seventh overall by Chicago in 2017, has had an up and down career. Injuries keep coming up, but he’s healthy now. Shooting well (39.6% on 7.2 threes per game), but career lows everywhere else (rebounds, assists, steals, blocks all down). He doesn’t offer any rim protection for a guy who’s 6’10”. But he’s better than Frank Kaminsky, and would probably earn solid minutes the rest of the season and could improve in the future.

All the other guys either already re-signed, or their teams are keeping them long term or they suck. Lonzo Ball and John Collins are big available names from that draft, but Zo makes too salary much for my trade comfort and Collins would cost too much value to acquire to NOT extend him, which would mean the Suns sacrifice one of Ayton or Bridges in a year.

Beyond this season, I think Lauri could be re-signed to a deal that allows the Suns to keep both Ayton and Bridges in a year, and that Lauri fits well long term in between those two.

Brendon’s thoughts:

Love this one, though in my opinion the Suns would have to give up more to get it done. I think Gafford is a legit rotation big man, and Markkanen is a sell-low guy. Getting both for basically just the price of Smith is unlikely. Could a future second-rounder get it done? Maybe. Generally speaking, I like the idea of Markkanen returning to the desert.

Khaleel’s thoughts:

What Brendon said. I like Lauri and a U of A frontcourt would be cool.


Justin Morris’s Target: Jerami Grant

The Cost: Dario Saric, Jalen Smith, Jevon Carter

Can we just take a minute to wholly appreciate the rapidity with which Jerami Grant has skyrocketed into a plus-20 ppg threat on any given night? Grant has unequivocally proven that it’s not just favorable genes and high-caliber athleticism that has propelled him to NBA stardom (although they certainly help), and fans are just beginning to see the elongated reach of his budding skill.

The guy has absolutely erupted onto the scoring scene after signing with Detroit this past summer, and they’ve embraced him as a primary offensive option, giving him full reign over their strategic bucket-getting propositions.

He has not disappointed.

Grant’s averaging 23.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists through 39 games played this season, and has put himself squarely in the running for Most Improved regency. But a gaudy salary number, plus Troy Weaver’s insatiable desire to make him a franchise cornerstone makes for one rocky terrain to try and traipse should teams inquire about his services.

But my goodness, the luxuries he could provide for Phoenix – especially as an ever-ready sixth man? Sheesh. It’d be a dream-like scenario for the Suns’ already highly-potent offensive attack.

Dave’s Thoughts:

I would love to see Jerami Grant on the Suns! I thought he was a perfect fit last offseason, so it’s even more clear now how good he would be in Phoenix. I just don’t see the Pistons trading this guy so quick, when they have so little young talent to build. They need Jerami to stay respectable in the fans’ eyes.


There you are, Suns fans!

What do you think? What are YOUR trades?