NBA rumors keep coming in—with the news of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and Carmelo Anthony’s decision to stay on at the Knicks, the 2014 offseason has been one of the most exciting in recent years. The Phoenix Suns, who are aspiring to be playoff contenders once again, should focus on picking up Lance Stephenson—who may just be one of the best players left on the market.
IndyStarSports.com tweeted this message following the announcement:
Phoenix's Goran Dragic wins NBA's Most Improved Player. #Pacers' Lance Stephenson finished second in the voting.— IndyStar Sports (@IndyStarSports) April 23, 2014
The Suns may be forced to make a hard decision to acquire Stephenson, but it could be worth it in the long run. According to Mitch Lawrence of The New York Daily News, “The Pacers would love to make a deal for Phoenix’s Goran Dragic, with Lance Stephenson being a candidate to go to the Suns in a sign-and-trade.”
NBA writer Josh Haar later confirmed the rumors via his Twitter account:
The Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns are discussing a potential S&T involving a Lance Stephenson, Goran Dragic swap— Josh Haar (@JHaarNBA) July 13, 2014
Though at first glance it may not seem wise to trade the league’s most improved player for the second most, the Suns, who are heavy on point guards and could use another shooting guard/small forward to complement their roster, might want to consider signing and coaching up the 23-year-old, who improved significantly from last season to the previous.
According to Josh Hill of Fansided.com, both sides could currently be lukewarm on pulling the trigger, but the trade would make sense for both parties.
This seems to be a plan that is only being mildly considered as there are some massive pieces involved here for both sides. But at the core of the situation, things make sense as the Suns are loaded with point guards and will need to eventually get rid of Dragic, Eric Bledsoe or someone and the Pacers need a point guard. It’s also not the first time the Pacers have been involved [in] rumors with Goran Dragic so there might actually be something to these rumors.
Stephenson could end up being a solid replacement for the Suns’ small forward P.J. Tucker, who had an average season last year with only 760 points, and complement Gerald Green, who put up an impressive 1,295 points last season as a shooting guard.
His averages last year, which according to David Woods of IndyStarSports.com, were, "14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists. Last season: 8.8, 3.9, 2.9. He is also shooting .498 from the field, an increase from .460."
However, he has one intangible that can't be measured, according to teammate Paul George (reported via IndyStarSports.com), "I think toughness is what's special about Lance," George said. "Deep in the playoffs, that's what the playoffs are all about. Who's got the toughness, who's all in it together?"
Stephenson's improving stats mean that the Suns would have another consistent scorer on offense who is just entering his prime, while his physical and mental toughness could be a major factor in helping the Suns make it to the postseason.
The Suns, who were one of many teams that ended up missing out on acquiring both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, need to make some smart moves to be able to make a deep playoff run next season, and acquiring Stephenson could be their key to doing so.
Mike Martinez is a contributor for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @MikeMartinezBR