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The problem: The Phoenix Suns simply didn't have enough firepower this past season.
Goran Dragic's 14.7 points and 7.4 assists were a lone bright spot on a roster of ineffective talent. No. 13 overall pick, rookie Kendall Marshall, showed little as a difference-maker.
The problem is this payroll doesn't offer too much bend. The Suns have $53.37 million tied into their current roster, losing Wesley Johnson and Jermaine O'Neal.
So where to go?
How to fix it: The Suns' new general manager, 33-year-old Ryan McDonough, revealed he hopes to maintain youth according to USA Today:
The most important thing to find in our head coach is someone who is a leader. We need someone who commands the respect of the players, commands the respect of the entire organization. We also need someone who is a teacher, who can help our young players develop and get better and maximize their individual talent.
One such candidate to lead a young Suns team, as mentioned by Randy Hill of Fox Sports Arizona, is current San Antonio Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer. He's a native of Arizona, and the Spurs have done a fine job developing young players in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
But to ignite the rebuilding process into a 2013-14 postseason? It will take some tinkering.
The biggest pieces of trade value include Dragic, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat. Each make reasonable salaries, and because of that they can help begin a roster overhaul.
Keeping Dragic works best if he's paired with a slashing, bigger guard. Enter Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings. If the Kings don't reunite with Evans, he's a nice fit with the Suns.
The Kings are uncertain of what to do with Evans alongside scoring point guard Isaiah Thomas. They can let him walk, sign him to a long deal or perhaps create a sign-and-trade for returned talent. The Suns can package Scola in the deal as a veteran to play alongside DeMarcus Cousins.
Next to a more traditional point guard like Dragic, Evans makes more sense. Evans averaged 20 points, five rebounds and six assists in his rookie season. His second year was plagued with plantar fasciitis, and he became lost in the bermuda triangle of the NBA in Sacramento.
With a backcourt of Dragic and Evans, the Suns can chase Nerlens Noel or Cody Zeller in the draft depending on how they luck out in the lottery.
The higher pick would give Phoenix a shot at Noel, who will enter the season still hurt (ACL).
Meanwhile, regardless of where Phoenix falls in the lottery, Zeller should be available. His size matched with a high on-floor IQ makes him ready to step in with a heavy role in his first season.
A healthier Gortat remains a necessity for inside scoring. Gortat and his expiring contract could also be used as valuable trade bait near next season's deadline to fill potential needs.
To round out the wings, the Suns can sign Evans' former teammate, free agent Francisco Garcia, as a defender and wing shooter. Matt Barnes is also available. Both offer veteran perimeter presence and each has a high-level motor.
The young Suns will need veteran passion on an otherwise young team. Rapid development will be needed to push into the postseason.