Right now, it is perfectly clear that the Phoenix Suns roster just isn't getting the done on the court. The team currently holds a 17-36 record, and it would not be the least bit surprising to see Phoenix start seriously engaging in trade negotiations in the next several days up until the trade deadline.
As much as the Suns may want to make a big splash and acquire Al Jefferson or Josh Smith, that probably isn't the right path to take for a rebuilding team. If the Suns make any trades in the next few days, they should focus on trading veterans for high-quality prospects and future draft picks. The goal should be to get younger and not to be weighted down by burdensome contracts.
Almost nobody is untouchable on this roster either. Goran Dragic most likely isn't going anywhere, and Luis Scola is staying put due to amnesty restrictions, but everyone else should be available. Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Sebastian Telfair, Jermaine O'Neal and even Markieff Morris are names that either already have or could soon appear in trade rumors.
With that being said, here are four proposals the Suns should make before the NBA trade deadline.
Marcin Gortat to the Thunder
Oklahoma City receives: Marcin Gortat, Wesley Johnson, 2013 Second-Round Pick (DEN)
Phoenix receives: Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb, 2013 First-Round Pick (TOR)
First, keep in mind that these are proposals that the Suns should offer to teams. These aren't the actual trades, but rather offers to start negotiations that would be more of a best-case scenario for Phoenix.
In all likelihood, that Toronto pick is not going anywhere. It is definitely going to be a lottery pick, and the Thunder would much rather give up their top-20 protected pick from Dallas. However, this trade would be an absolute steal if the Suns could come away with a third 2013 lottery draft pick.
In addition to another first-round draft pick, the Suns get rookie shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, a player with the potential to develop into a solid rotation player at the very least. If all goes well, maybe he could even become a starter in a couple years time. Lamb has appeared in just 16 games and has played 64 minutes all season, so the Thunder shouldn't be too attached, and he could receive a lot of minutes under new head coach Lindsey Hunter.
However, the problem still lies with Kendrick Perkins' contract.
By getting a great lottery pick and a rookie, the Suns are forced to take on the contract of Kendrick Perkins, who is making $7.8 million this season and still has two more years of his contract remaining. The Suns would have to eat that , and all for a player who averages 4.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
On the bright side, the Suns do get the to dump Wesley Johnson in this deal, which is a positive. I have proposed this deal before, and it has been opposed because of the inclusion of Perkins, but if the Suns add another promising rookie and have three guaranteed lottery picks in one draft, there is no way they could refuse.
All Phoenix would need is approval from the Thunder. Gortat is clearly an improvement over Perkins, and hopefully they would take this trade in order to go for a deep playoff push and possibly a championship run. However, since the Thunder currently have no problems either on or off the court, they may not be looking for a trade right now.
Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O'Neal to Boston
Boston receives: Sebastian Telfair, Jermaine O'Neal
Phoenix receives: Fab Melo, 2014 Second-Round Pick (BKN), 2016 Second-Round Pick (BOS)
Which Suns player is most likely to be traded at the deadline?
This trade is pretty straightforward. It may not look like a trade that helps the Suns, but it actually does in a few subtle ways.
First of all, O'Neal and Telfair are both veterans who no longer have a real place on this team. Telfair has lost his backup point guard spot to Kendall Marshall, and Jermaine O'Neal does play minutes but also has an expiring contract. Neither of these two would be re-signed at the end of the season, so it makes a lot of sense to trade them now and receive some value.
In return, the Suns get rookie center Fab Melo and a couple of second-round picks. Melo has only played eight minutes this season, and although he doesn't project to be a superstar he could potentially provide solid minutes off the bench for the Suns in the future. As for the picks, you never know when you'll find a gem in the draft, so extra draft picks are always nice to have.
The Suns also get worse in the short-term by making this trade, which in a way makes them better. By losing three or four extra games for the rest of the season, the Suns fight for a higher spot in the draft which could make the difference between drafting a superstar or not. It's a strange method of thinking, but tanking can have its perks, and this season is a lost cause.
For Boston, the reason behind this trade is obvious. They are now without Jared Sullinger, Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa, and they could desperately use some veteran leadership and bench depth to secure a playoff spot. O'Neal wasn't the best fit in Boston before, but if the Celtics were willing to contact Greg Oden at one point, they should be willing to take on these two quality veteran role players.
Jared Dudley to the Big Apple
New York receives: Jared Dudley, Sebastian Telfair
Phoenix receives: Iman Shumpert, Marcus Camby, 2018 Second-Round Pick
This proposal stems from the report several days ago that stated that the Suns were interested in Iman Shumpert.
But since then, some interesting details have surfaced. Now there are reports that Shumpert actually wants a trade, and if that is the case, the Suns could jump on this deal immediately.
Dudley is a great leader and a solid player, but Shumpert could be a much better player than Dudley ever was or ever will be. Not only is Shumpert a young prospect who will continue to develop, but he is already considered one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. His offense needs work, and it isn't wise to believe the Knick fans who tell you he is a future superstar, but Shumpert is a good player nevertheless.
Also, the Knicks could use another point guard as Prigioni and Kidd are only getting older. If they show any interest in Telfair, then perhaps this deal really could go down. If Shumpert wants to leave the Knicks and New York really wants another point guard coming off the bench, then perhaps the Suns can hold some leverage over them in trade negotiations.
The downside is that Marcus Camby is on a three-year deal for about $4.5 million per year, but would he really spend another two full seasons on a losing team like the Suns before retiring? The Suns may not have to worry about that contract after all.
Originally, when the Suns were reportedly offering Dudley and a first-round pick, this deal seemed awful for Phoenix. But when you rebuild, sometimes you have to give up beloved veteran players. It's what the team did with Steve Nash, and if they can get a prospect like Shumpert without having to send first-round picks in return, perhaps the Suns should consider doing the same with Dudley.
Gortat to Milwaukee
Bucks receive: Marcin Gortat, Sebastian Telfair
Suns receive: Samuel Dalembert, John Henson, 2014 First-Round Pick (MIL)
This is a trade that I have proposed before, but it is easily the best-case scenario of any possible Marcin Gortat trade package.
In this trade, the Suns would get everything they could possibly want. John Henson is a promising rookie, Dalembert is an expiring contract that clears even more cap space, and the Suns receive yet another first-round pick.
Dalembert still has some value, but John Henson is really the center of this package for the Suns. The 22-year-old rookie forward was taken just after Kendall Marshall with the 14th pick of the draft, but he has the potential to be a future starting power forward.
With so many forwards currently on the Bucks, Henson is averaging just 12.8 minutes of play per game, but he averages 5.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in that limited playing time, an indicator that he could produce with more minutes. Per 36 minutes, those numbers translate into 16.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per outing.
Unfortunately, this is the least likely deal to go down, simply because Gortat is not as great a fit in Milwaukee as he would be in other cities. The Bucks already have Larry Sanders as a future center, and they have expressed no interest in Gortat thus far.
Of course, Gortat could play power forward which would still strengthen Milwaukee's frontcourt, but the Bucks may look for a natural power forward if they wish improve that position.
But if the Suns can get Milwaukee interested in making a deal, they have to propose this trade. Even if the Bucks take out Samuel Dalembert and stick Phoenix with Drew Gooden's awful contract, this trade is probably still worth it. Henson could be a great player in the future, and in this new era of Phoenix Suns basketball, no two words are more exciting than "draft picks."