Yes, it is that time of year again. With the trade deadline a few months away, trade speculation has already started and plenty of teams are putting their players on the trade block.
The Suns are no exception. Despite a current four-game winning streak, the Suns are 11-15 this season. It would not be the least bit surprising to see the team make a few deadline deals.
So, who's available? Other than Luis Scola who can't be traded due to amnesty rules, nobody is really untouchable. The Suns may be extremely reluctant to deal away Goran Dragic or Markieff Morris, but both Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley are likely to draw interest. Should the team receive a good offer, they would probably pull the trigger and get a deal done.
Of course, there's also Michael Beasley. Although Phoenix's president of basketball operations, Lon Babby, has said that Beasley is a long-term project, it may be in the team's best interest to at least shop Beasley and see if there's a team willing to take him.
But what does this team need specifically?
Well, that's a good question, and there is no easy answer. Dragic has been effectively running the point, but other than that, the Suns really could use help at every other position.
They will need a future go-to scorer, several future big men and maybe even a small forward too, because Dudley is not a long-term answer.
Really, the team needs youth more than anything else.
Because they could use help everywhere and don't have many untouchable players, it wasn't that hard to formulate some possible trade ideas. Here are five balanced trades that the Phoenix Suns should look into before the trade deadline in February.
Note: All trade in this article were verified using ESPN's NBA Trade Machine feature.
Phoenix gets: Nikola Vucevic, J.J. Redick
Orlando gets: Marcin Gortat
This trade is really all about building for the future. Gortat's future in Phoenix is in question, and Vucevic is a great option to become the Suns' next starting center.
Currently, Vucevic is averaging 10.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks for the Magic in 29.6 minutes per game. He also shoots 49 percent from the field.
Although he isn't quite as efficient in the mid-range game as Gortat is, Vucevic has connected on 27 of his 77 mid-range shot attempts this year (35 percent). He is also a pretty good defender, with a defensive rating of just 98 this year. In other words, Vucevic allows his opponents to score 98 points on him per 100 possessions, which is very good.
In addition to Vucevic, the Suns add sharpshooter J.J. Redick to the roster in this deal. Redick may be on the trade block, and he is currently averaging a career-high 14.9 points and 4.2 assists per game. In addition to that, Redick has also shot 40 percent from downtown for his career, and he would be a great scoring spark for a Suns team that often looks stagnant on offense.
Both Redick and Vucevic are the type of players that the Suns would want long-term. And in the worst-case scenario, the Suns can clear Redick from the books at the end of the season if they so wish, as his contract is expiring. In fact, that would mean more cap space with which to sign free agents for Phoenix.
Phoenix gets: Rodney Stuckey, Austin Daye
Detroit gets: Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall, future second round pick
As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." That very well may be the case in this trade, as both sides are giving up seemingly worthless players that might be able to benefit from a change of scenery.
For the Suns, this trade is a bit of a risk. Rodney Stuckey looked like a promising young player a few years ago, but right now he's averaging 11.8 points and 4.2 assists a game while shooting 38 percent from the field. To make things worse, he still has one remaining season on his contract in which he will be paid $8.5 million.
The last thing the Suns want is another Michael Beasley. But Stuckey could potentially be the scorer they need, and they would be giving up virtually nothing in this trade because Stuckey's trade value is so low. At the very least, the Suns should take a closer look at Stuckey and evaluate his potential.
Also don't underestimate Austin Daye's presence in this trade. Daye is apparently being shopped by the Pistons. Although he has only played seven games this season, his 6'11" frame and ability to space the floor as a career 34 percent shooter from behind the arc could both be useful. Daye is in the last year of his contract as well, so he can be dumped at the end of the season if necessary.
For the Pistons, this trade is all about clearing cap space. The Pistons dump Stuckey's contract, and in return they get two young players, including Wesley Johnson who is also an expiring contract. As for Marshall, it is a shame that he hasn't been given a chance in Phoenix, but Detroit could definitely use a backup point guard prospect with a great passing ability.
It seems to be a win for both sides.
Phoenix gets: Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger
Boston gets: Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall, future second round pick
Getting Vucevic is one thing, but if the Suns really want to get a package of young prospects, this trade is the way to do it.
Bradley has not played a single game this year due to injury, but he could be the future shooting guard that the Suns need. In his sophomore season last year, Bradley started 28 games and averaged 12.7 points, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals a game per 36 minutes. Bradley also shot 50 percent from the field. Although he doesn't shoot threes very often, he connected on 41 percent of his attempts from downtown.
Bradley may never be a go-to scorer, but that doesn't make him a liability on offense. He is efficient, he can make good passes and he doesn't turn the ball over. He may be a little raw on the offensive side of the ball, but he still has a lot of time to develop.
What Bradley really gives the Suns is a great perimeter defender. Bradley is quick, and he puts a lot of effort into playing lockdown defense, a quality which is harder to find in NBA players these days.
Additionally, the Suns get two other quality players in Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger. Although Lee has struggled a lot early on this season, he is still a career 38-percent shooter from behind the arc and could be a good scoring spark off the bench. Meanwhile, Sullinger is averaging 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds a game right now in his rookie season, and he could develop into a quality player in the future.
For the Celtics, this trade provides them with a true center in Marcin Gortat. Not only is Gortat's natural position center, but he is one of the better centers in the league and should thrive in an offense that is run by star point guard Rajon Rondo. Boston would also get to officially mark Courtney Lee as a failed signing and dump his contract. With Terry and Barbosa perfectly capable of handling the minutes at shooting guard, Bradley should not be untouchable. Hopefully they would consider this trade.
Phoenix gets: Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro
Atlanta gets: Michael Beasley, Kendall Marshall
The Hawks are doing surprisingly well this season, but would that make them crazy enough to trade for Michael Beasley at the deadline and try and make a playoff push? If you're a Suns fan, you should hope so.
Right now, DeShawn Stevenson is starting at small forward for the Hawks. The 31-year-old wingman is averaging 7.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 42 percent from the field.
The task the Suns face is to somehow convince Atlanta that Beasley would be an upgrade.
Beasley is currently averaging 10.8 points and 3.7 rebounds a game, but he is shooting just 38 percent from the field and averages more field goal attempts than points per game.
But perhaps Beasley could help the Hawks make a playoff run, or at least be an added bench player. The Hawks do not have any very good forwards coming off the bench. Beasley could take that role for the team, playing at either small forward or being a stretch 4.
It really isn't a risk for the Hawks, either. They're giving up almost nothing in this trade. Anthony Morrow is playing just 13 minutes a game, and Petro has appeared in only four games this season. So why would the Suns want them? They're both expiring contracts, and it would mean the team adds $7.5 million in cap space for the offseason.
This trade is nothing more than an attempt to dump Beasley and save money. Look, we're even offering Kendall Marshall, and I'd bet that the Suns would be willing to throw in a few piggy banks and all of the team's vending machine revenue as well. So is it a deal Atlanta?
Phoenix gets: Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, Courtney Lee
Boston gets: Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley
Sacramento gets: Avery Bradley, Jeff Green
First, allow me to say that this trade can't be completed until January 15th, when restrictions on Jeff Green expire and he's allowed to be traded. This trade is a variation of the earlier Boston trade I proposed, but Sacramento is added to the mix.
If the Suns want a go-to scorer that they can realistically trade for, Tyreke Evans is the best option. And because Evans is a free agent after this season and is unlikely to re-sign with the Kings, Sacramento may want to get some value from him in a trade at the deadline. If the Suns know that Evans would be open to signing in Phoenix, they should get on the phone and pursue a trade like this.
In addition to giving up Gortat, the Suns give up starting small forward Jared Dudley, but it is definitely worth it. Evans' stats have regressed a little bit more this season, but that is only due to the drop in minutes. His 36 minute stats suggest that he is actually having a pretty good season so far, and he still has the potential to be a very good player.
The Suns also get Jason Thompson, who is currently averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1 block per game as Sacramento's starting power forward. Thompson is young, and he's great on the glass in addition to being a good defender. And just as in the other Boston trade, the Suns take on Courtney Lee's contract in hopes of getting a good scoring option off the bench.
Once again, Boston makes this deal to add size. They get Gortat to be the starting center, and Jared Dudley as a solid defender and a great shooter who could play significant minutes at both shooting guard and small forward.
For the Kings, it's all about milking some trade value out of Tyreke Evans. Evans is not a true small forward, and the Kings have struggled to find a good starting small forward for a very long time. But Jeff Green could be the answer to their problems, even with the heart condition that kept him sidelined for all of last season. Green is only a few years removed from averaging 16.5 points per game with the Thunder. He can play either forward position, and he also has great range for his size.
The Kings also get Avery Bradley, who could be a great starting option at shooting guard with Marcus Thornton returning to the bench. The loss of Thompson would allow rookie Thomas Robinson to take the starting spot at power forward. With so many young and developing players, the Kings could have a very talented roster in a couple of years.
Personally, I'd prefer to be able to sign Evans in free agency and use Gortat's trade value to get something else if possible. But if the Kings actively shop Evans, this is a fair and balanced trade that should leave each fanbase satisfied.