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It’s a shame the Suns can’t just trade for “Ray Smith”

They say ignorance is bliss but sometimes it’s also not an option in the real world.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry GossageNBAE via Getty Images

Remember the 2000 film “The Replacements”? In order to field the most competitive football team possible during a players’ strike, the fictional Washington Sentinels resort to signing a former star cornerback and kick returner who was serving a prison sentence for assaulting a police officer. As a personal favor to the team owner, he’s allowed to play with the permission of the governor under the alias “Ray Smith”. “Ray” isn’t one of the main characters in the film but his character does play a significant part in the team’s success.

As the NBA trade deadline draws near, the Phoenix Suns are also looking to add a player or two that could hopefully play a significant role on their team but with a near-empty bag of trade assets, that won’t be easy. Most of the names brought up that the team is supposedly interested in have been underwhelming. The one name that isn’t — Miles Bridges — has a ton of baggage attached to it that has many fans strongly opposed to bringing him to Phoenix even if it would be a good basketball move.

Bridges is a big wing who can play at both forward positions and is averaging 20.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He also has missed only one game since returning from suspension. Adding him would be a no-brainer if not for his history of domestic violence.

But if not for that history, he would also not be available at the low price that the Suns can afford to pay.

This places James Jones and the Suns firmly between the proverbial rock and a hard place in regard to the swiftly approaching trade deadline. The Suns have roster needs that must be addressed in order to attempt to push the team into the realm of top-tier contenders but very few trade assets to use in order to get there.

Well, very few that they actually wouldn’t mind moving in a trade.

Unless they’re willing to move a player or two that they really want — and need — to keep, they aren’t poised to make much of a splash at the deadline. The possibility of them trading any one of their Big 3 is virtually nil. I won’t say that it’s impossible that they do so but the chance of it happening is so close to zero that it’s not really worth discussing.

Beyond the Big 3, their next best trade assets are Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon. Of the three, Gordon is likely the most expendable but also the least valuable in terms of salary matching as he’s making the league minimum this year. He also has a player option for next season which would make him potentially a rest of the season rental for any team that trades for him which further lowers his trade value.

Monetarily, Nurkic is potentially the Suns’ best trade asset in order to bring back more than one player but one of the Suns’ needs is a better backup for him which makes trading him very unlikely. You don’t want to fill one hole in your roster by opening up an even bigger hole elsewhere.

Next comes Grayson Allen but he’s been playing so well that trading him would just as likely turn into a net loss for the team as it could be a gain as it’s unlikely that the Suns could get a significantly better player back with virtually no draft capital to use to sweeten any deal they could offer. With the time it would take for a new player to learn the Suns’ offense and defense, no matter who they could get would also likely be at least a short-term downgrade overall.

Speaking of their draft capital, they have zero future 1st round picks that can presently be traded. Nuff said about that and there’s very little value in any of the 2nd round picks that they have available to trade. The 2024 2nd rounder from San Antonio (protected for selections 31-54) won’t even convey. In 2026 the Suns will get the least favorable 2nd round pick from either Detroit, Milwaukee, or Orlando. In 2028 they have two picks (yay!), one from Boston (protected for selections 31-45) and one from Memphis (unprotected). And in 2029 they have another unprotected 2nd round pick from Memphis. The Suns won’t have control of any of their own 2nd rounders again until 2031.

So, as you can see the Suns aren’t going to have it easy trying to upgrade the roster before the deadline. What’s possibly the most favorable trade available to them - from a pure basketball point of view - looks to be a trade for Miles Bridges, a player that 56% of Bright Siders have indicated they would be against having on the team in this week’s Inside The Suns poll.

Personally, I’d love to have the player on the team but I’d also hate to have the person on it. Unfortunately, there’s no way to separate one from the other... or pull a fast one like Hollywood did in The Replacements and have “Ray Smith” join our team with no one (including all of us Suns fans) being the wiser as to who he really was.

With that not an option, I’m curious to find out whether James Jones and Mat Ishbia will risk angering and possibly alienating what could be a very large number of fans by pulling the trigger on that trade. And if they choose to go another direction... can they pull off some out-of-left-field trade that leaves us going “Wow!” or will they just shuffle the deck chairs a bit and hope for the best?

Right now, your guess is just as good as mine.

Somehow adding this music video just seemed to be a good fit here... and you know how important “fit” is with the Suns.

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