The NBA Trade Deadline is just around the corner, February 23rd to be exact, and the Phoenix Suns have found themselves in the middle of a few trade rumors. The Suns currently own the worst record in the Western Conference, sitting at a lowly 18-39, which is also the second-worst record in the entire association. The Valley of the Sun can use a shake-up to shed some light on a reeling franchise. Here are some rumblings that have made their way out of league offices on what Phoenix has found themselves involved in.
Suns Looking to Add a Star, If Not More Assets
Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype recently spoke to a GM who was shocked that the Phoenix Suns have not been mentioned as a team looking to make a splash at the deadline. The GM, who remained anonymous for obvious reasons, informed Kennedy that the Suns are looking to add a star for a package of assets that the Suns have accumulated over the years.
Phoenix currently has a wealth of young prospects in Marqueese Chriss (19), Dragan Bender (19), Tyler Ulis (20), T.J. Warren (23), and Alex Len (23). The youth movement pairs with veteran swingman P.J. Tucker, combo guard Brandon Knight, sharpshooter Jared Dudley, and rebounding machine Tyson Chandler.
The team also sports two first rounders coming over from the Miami Heat (in 2018 and 2021) in the trade that sent then All-NBA Third Team guard, Goran Dragic, to South Beach in 2015. Couple those two picks in with Phoenix's draft picks, and the team is sitting on a treasure trove of assets.
Assets are aplenty in the Valley of the Sun; now the question remains, will the Phoenix Suns be able to put a package together that will entice some team to blow it all up and send a star back?
If the Suns are unable to pull off a major deal at the deadline, look for them to continue stockpiling assets and developing their young prospects.
Eric Bledsoe – PG
Eric Bledsoe is having the best season of his six-year career. The dynamic point guard is coming off a triple-double against the Lakers, while averaging 21.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game on the season. For a rebuilding team, that is what you want from your starting point guard, an All-Star worthy stat line. So why would the Suns want to move their point guard? According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Suns may want to think about dealing Bledsoe.
Windhorst’s argument here is that this is the perfect time to sell high on Bledsoe. “If I was the Suns…we beat the market if we move Bledsoe now and put ourselves in a position to add some nice pieces and build around Devin Booker,” Windhorst told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Trade rumors surrounding Bledsoe have been nonexistent throughout the season, and the consensus around the league is that the Suns will hold onto their starting point guard.
P.J. Tucker – SG/SF
No Suns player has had their name brought up in more trade rumors as often as P.J. Tucker’s name has surfaced. The 31-year-old swingman, in the final year of his $5.3 million contract, has found himself linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and the Atlanta Hawks – as first reported by Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The T-Wolves have offered forward Shabazz Muhammad for P.J. Tucker, according to Basketball Insiders. However, after Zach Lavine’s season-ending knee injury and Muhammad playing some of the best basketball of his career, it remains to be seen if the Wolves are indeed still interested in swapping forwards.
In another reported trade offer, the Clippers have inquired about sending a second-round pick to the Suns in exchange for Tucker’s services, per Marc Stein of ESPN. Phoenix shot down the offer, as they view Tucker more valuable than a second-rounder and are holding out for a first-round pick instead.
Ian Begley of ESPN reported that members of the Knicks front office view Tucker as a potential trade target, reuniting him with former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek.
With plenty of suitors on the market and GM Ryan McDonough non-committal on re-signing Tucker long term, the consensus is that he is available for the right price.
Brandon Knight – PG/SG
With the emergence of budding star Devin Booker last season, Brandon Knight has become expendable for the Suns. There just aren't enough minutes to go around in a crowded Phoenix guard rotation. There has not been much on Knight in recent weeks with a sprained right wrist hampering him.
However, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, talks about moving Knight can be traced back to the summer of 2016. The Sacramento Kings have long been interested in trading for Knight but ultimately held off. With the Kings only a game and a half back of the eighth seed in the West, and backup point guard Ty Lawson suffering from an adductor strain, this gives the Kings a chance to buy low on Knight.
Since moving to the bench this year as the Suns’ sixth man, Brandon Knight has struggled mightily. On the season he is averaging 11 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on 39.6% shooting from the field. An NBA front office member relayed to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that Knight’s poor play this season has created little to no market for the 25-year-old combo guard.
Teams now view Knight as a below average replacement and an analytical nightmare, only two years removed from serious All-Star consideration.
Analysis: The Take
The Suns are in a prime position to trade for a star player. The assets that they currently have on hand are enough to net them a significant return, while not mortgaging their future away. One player and a year or two of development for their youth is all the franchise needs to finally claw their way out of the trenches of the Western Conference.
A playoff appearance would no doubt be a significant morale boost for the Suns organization and fanbase, as the team has not made the playoffs since the 2009-2010 season – in which the Los Angeles Lakers bounced the team, 4-2, in the Western Conference finals.
Suns’ GM, Ryan McDonough recently led on that the Suns will “more likely look to add players to help him [Bledsoe] and Devin [Booker] and help our young core grow.”
It is looking like the Suns may make a move or two as the trade deadline approaches. With their backcourt set, look for the front office to make a run at a veteran frontcourt player or someone to solidify their sixth man role.
It is also worth noting that the Suns have a little over $13 million in cap space. This can prove useful in helping facilitate a three-team deal and take on a contract for draft picks to further stockpile assets.
Possibilities are endless for a franchise looking to turn it around and return to being a powerhouse.