Goran Dragic sees the Sun setting in Phoenix. While the Suns front office could take a risk and hope it can change his mind, The Dragon wants out. The smart thing for the team to do is get something in return for its starting guard while it can. While it's hard to picture the Suns getting close to the return they might want, there is no shortage of teams that would welcome Dragic's talent. There are three teams Dragic listed as desirable trade options (the Lakers, Knicks and Heat) and four more that have been rumored to have interest in making a deal with Phoenix.
While Dragic might not appreciate playing for a sputtering team geared toward a youth movement,Boston general manager Danny Ainge has horded first-round picks through various trades and also has youngsters like stretch forward Kellly Olynyk, swingman James Young and forward Jared Sullinger who could be thrown in there. Phoenix, however, would probably have to take on a veteran contract such as Marcus Thornton, Gerald Wallace or Tayshaun Prince. ESPN calls the Celtics a "darkhorse" in the Dragic sweepstakes because of Suns general manager's Ryan McDonough's strong bond with his former team.
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Leading up to the 2014 draft, there were reports that Phoenix was infatuated with Michigan's Nik Stauskas. The Kings' rookie combo guard finds himself in trade rumors heading into the week of the deadline, but the Suns might prefer shooting guard Ben McLemore (Phoenix passed him over for Alex Len in 2013). Seventh-year big man Jason Thompson could be added to the deal for salary purposes.
Like the other teams not on Dragic's list of desirable destinations, Houston would be taking a big risk by trading assets only to see the Dragic leave as a free agent this summer. But the Rockets front office does have options and the creativity to make something work. The Suns probably wouldn't mind acquiring any of Houston's bigs: versatile 23-year-old forward Terrence Jones, quickly developing 24-year-old Donatas Motiejunas or athletic rookie center Clint Capela. The Rockets own a first-round pick from the Pelicans this summer, but they'd need to make up the rest of Dragic's $7.5 million contract for the salaries to work.
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USA Today's Sam Amick, who first reported Dragic's decision, notes that the Indiana Pacers have retained interest in Dragic since this summer. It could be hard to see them trade veteran forward and locker room leader David West away without disrupting things, but there are enough mid-level contracts from guys like Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson to make it add up. Second-year swingman and former Arizona Wildcat Solomon Hill might be the Pacers' only young asset to trade, but Indiana also has draft picks to sweeten the deal.
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Luol Deng is 29 years old, and since the Suns traded him on draft night in 2004, he's been occasionally linked to the franchise in the rumor mill. His $9.7 million salary could match up easily, and Phoenix could perhaps try to pry a talented swingman like James Ennis off Miami's hands. Then again, the Suns might not want any wings in addition to Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker to get in the way of rookie T.J. Warren's development. Like the other two teams on Dragic's list, the Heat aren't overflowing with draft picks.
Los Angeles Lakers
One could imagine the appeal to Dragic of playing with Kobe Bryant, but the reality is Los Angeles has little to trade. Jordan Hill is a serviceable big man if the Suns had to part with Miles Plumlee, who is linked to the Dragic rumors, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. But it's unlikely the Lakers have enough desirable assets beyond injured rookie Julius Randle (that's if they were willing to part with Randle) and a 2015 draft pick from Houston. Los Angeles reportedly won't consider talking trade if the Suns required them to take the top-5 protection off their first-round draft pick owed to Phoenix this summer, per ESPN.
New York Knicks
The Knicks would need to pile a number of minimum contracts together to make it work, but they do have a couple intriguing prospects in second-year guard Tim Hardaway Jr., rookie forward Cleanthony Early and second-year point guard Shane Larkin. Those three alone probably wouldn't be enough. Plus, New York worked hard just to recover from its wholesaling of draft picks to get those players. There's little reason to think the Suns would give the Knicks much thought without a third team being creatively involved.