5 NBA Teams That Would Be Ideal Trade Partners for Phoenix Suns
Whether the Phoenix Suns are preparing to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade or deliver a less groundbreaking deal to tweak the roster, general manager Ryan McDonough certainly appears poised to do something.
“I think it’s unlikely we bring in three rookies to the Suns next year,” the GM said, per Dave Dulberg of ArizonaSports.com. “Our preference would be, as I said when I arrived, to trade for a star if we can do that.”
Considering that there aren’t many stars occupying the NBA trade block, trading for a huge name may not be in the cards. McDonough, however, has also expressed the viewpoint that Phoenix doesn’t need a head-turning transaction in order to reach (and compete in) the postseason.
He said the following, per ArizonaSports.com’s Craig Grialou:
One of the things that was impressive this year, if you look at our record when the starters were healthy, when our five starters played, obviously (Goran) Dragic, (Eric) Bledsoe, (P.J.) Tucker, Channing (Frye) and (Miles) Plumlee, we were 23-11. So if you win more than two-thirds of your games, you’re an elite team.
We feel like we’re not far away.
With that outlook, the Suns may simply opt to fine-tune the roster rather than risk threatening team chemistry with any sort of overhaul.
In any case, there are other teams within the Association that have established talents they may be willing to part with for the right price. Phoenix undoubtedly has the assets to negotiate: multiple draft picks (including three in the first round this year) and young players with potential.
It’s a rarity when teams actually consider moving proven rotational players for fresh pieces, but there are a few that make the list.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
The odds of seeing Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love in a Suns uniform appear to be dwindling by the day.
Although Phoenix has the assets necessary to make a viable package for the rebound machine, the Arizona desert wasn’t viewed as a desired destination for the power forward.
As ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported in May, “Sources say that the Phoenix Suns, armed with several draft assets to offer Minnesota, also have strong interest in trading for Love, but the 25-year-old’s interest in joining the Suns is unclear.”
Without the promise that K-Love would sign on long term, giving up a collection of assets for him wouldn’t be the Suns’ best course of action.
Additionally, Stein is has since reported that the Golden State Warriors have relented and added sharpshooting 2-guard Klay Thompson to trade negotiations with the Timberwolves. If Minnesota covets what the three-point specialist can offer offensively, it will pursue him with gusto.
Still, it’s never a smart idea to rule out a dark horse team when blockbuster trades are on the cusp of shaking up the league. The Suns could very well piece together an offer to rival Golden State’s (perhaps via an Eric Bledsoe sign-and-trade).
There’s no guarantee that a Dragic-Love tandem is better than Phoenix’s upstart backcourt, but Love’s outlet passes would be a thing of beauty in Jeff Hornacek’s uptempo system. Perhaps the three-time All-Star would be compelled to stay after learning the ins and outs of Suns basketball.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Good luck trying to make sense of the rumors tied to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and, more specifically, talented yet inconsistent shooting guard Dion Waiters.
Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling reported in December, “According to a source close to Waiters, he ‘wants out’ of Cleveland.”
Veteran forward Luol Deng, meanwhile, squashed any supposed rift between Waiters and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving by saying in April, “It’s a distraction. I mean all this stuff I hear, but when we’re in the locker room with these guys every day, they love each other,” per The News-Herald’s Bob Finnan.
Now it appears that Cleveland’s front office may listen to offers for the Syracuse product after all. Per a tweet from Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico, the Cavs and a team with a lottery pick have engaged in “exploratory talks” regarding the future of Waiters and power forward Tristan Thompson.
The rumors may simply be hot air. However, if Waiters is truly available to the open trade market, he’d be an underrated target the Suns could choose to go after.
If Cavs management is considering moving him, it's because they're not in love with his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona.
As Yahoo Sports' Adam Redling wrote in February, "Waiters can either look like Dwyane Wade-lite slashing to the hoop at will, or your intoxicated uncle chucking up 20-foot fadeaways at the family barbecue that threaten to bring down the backboard."
The 22-year-old has to work out some kinks, but I believe he has enough potential to become an All-Star someday.
He may not seem like the best fit on the surface, since Phoenix already has Dragic and the chance to retain Bledsoe through restricted free agency. Nevertheless, Waiters played the role of sixth man for Jim Boeheim in college. It may not be a role he covets, but he’d add even more firepower to a Suns bench that already features Gerald Green and Markieff Morris, among others.
3. Denver Nuggets
In fact, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett via Twitter, the Nuggets have already offered Minnesota the Manimal, Chandler and a player they’d look to acquire in a different deal (thought to be Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo) for Kevin Love.
It’s unclear what Denver would give up to land Orlando’s 2-guard, but that’s a solid offer to compete with Minny’s other suitors.
Of course, the Timberwolves will essentially be able to pick where they decide to send the All-Star big man. They hold a fair amount of leverage at this point in time.
So, if the Nuggets and Suns strike out in the Love sweepstakes, they could engage each other in trade talks as a viable Plan B.
The Suns have plenty of draft picks in their back pocket, while Denver has a collection of solid rotational players that can provide depth
If Phoenix could somehow land Mozgov—as Denver moves forward with McGee—and Chandler, its second unit would reap the benefits.
The San Antonio Spurs won an NBA championship by having a steady core and a deep, capable bench. Perhaps the Suns can emulate that formula instead of adding a big-name superstar moving forward.
2. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are trying to shed salary. The Suns are looking to improve from a season ago. There’s a chance these two organizations could engage in a mutually beneficial trade.
Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin have both proven themselves as rock-solid contributors for various playoff teams. Asik is a defensive-minded rim protector, while Lin thrived in a new role as sixth man—a job he’d retain behind Dragic and Bledsoe if shipped to Phoenix.
The Suns could look to add one or both of those guys—preferably the Turkish center—but there’s a rather large elephant in the room when discussing this scenario.
The Rockets are attempting to free up cap space in order to sign Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James in free agency, per Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.
The Suns have to get through the Western Conference in order to win the first championship in franchise history. As a result, orchestrating a trade that allows Houston to get substantially better is the NBA version of shooting oneself in the foot.
Phoenix needs to get better if it has any hope of attaining the Larry O’Brien trophy. Improving by allowing general manager Daryl Morey to work more magic would create a ripple effect throughout the Association.
McDonough must bide his time, wait until the dust settles in free agency and reevaluate his options.
Asik is still a guy who could make the Suns’ 13th-ranked defense from a season ago even better. Targeting him in 2014-15, rather than during the offseason, makes Houston a more suitable trade partner.
1. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are searching for answers after finishing outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture for a fifth straight year. Since winning the 2004 NBA championship, it’s been anything but smooth sailing in Motown.
Offseason acquisitions of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith were supposed to net the Pistons a playoff berth. Instead, they won just 29 games and fired head coach Maurice Cheeks less than one season into his new deal.
Detroit’s team chemistry needs an overhaul. The easiest way to build something new from within is to cut ties with 24-year-old big man Greg Monroe, thus freeing up the power forward spot for Smith—who simply must stop shooting threes.
That may be a tough pill to swallow for Pistons fans, but Andre Drummond has established himself as the future of the franchise, anyway.
Because Monroe is a restricted free agent, the Pistons have some leeway when deciding his fate. Chiefly, they can execute a sign-and-trade to get something back in return.
Since the Suns are under the cap, they wouldn’t have to match salaries in order to bring Monroe aboard. Instead, they could ship a lesser contract up north with draft picks. That would give Detroit a reason to part ways with the lefty out of Georgetown.
Phoenix needs an established big man. While Monroe hasn’t made great strides over the course of four NBA seasons, he still has plenty of time to develop and improve his ceiling (many bigs are late bloomers, anyhow).
He’s no Kevin Love, but Monroe would be a huge piece that can bolster the Suns’ current frontcourt.