Suns big summer just getting started
JUN 18, 2014 1:57p ET
In following the Suns through an expected future-defining summer, we've reached a public interlude.
With no media-accessible pre-draft workouts for more than a week (the next one happens Friday), speculation is all that's been available as the serious business of the offseason approaches.
Holding three first-round picks in next week's NBA Draft, the Suns already auditioned 66 prospects at the team's practice venue inside US Airways Center.
"We want to get them in here," general manager Ryan McDonough said of the seemingly carpet-bombing approach to up-close-and-personal evaluation, "to see how they've developed and what they've been working on since their season ended.
"Also see what kind of condition they're in, have them get a lot of shots up ... put them in some different situations that they may not have been put in with their college or international teams."
Right, the ol' situational discomfort never ceases to entertain and inform. By the way, the situational intrigue confronted by the Suns seems to be admired around the league.
What's not to like?
Phoenix has the aforementioned multiple picks, the potential for a nice chunk of cap space and a team that last season came within a whisker of earning a playoff ticket in the nasty Western Conference.
But the situation is fluid and could be relentlessly tricky.
So, in attempting to decipher McDonough's poker face in regard to which draft prospects the Suns prefer, several other major issues must be reconciled in the coming weeks.
In recent days, it' was reported the Suns are not beyond throwing in one of their star point guards in a trade package to add some Love.
Suns fans have been obliged to take sides -- one camp believes Goran Dragic should not be included in any enterprise that can be referred to as "How To Trade Your Dragon 2," while internet-provoked fan voting suggests 24-year-old Eric Bledsoe receives considerably less support.
Still others believe everyone involved should embrace how the team performed when both PGs were healthy last season and urge the Suns to keep this tandem together under all circumstances.
Making it much easier is the widely reported Love interest from the Celtics, who -- with this year's sixth overall pick -- may have more ammunition than Phoenix.
Fans of the Dragon-Blade attack also lean on the premise that if the Timberwolves trade for Dragic, they'll have a player who is one year away from opting out of the current contract he decisively outplayed this season.
Bledsoe, whose deafeningly quiet march toward restricted free agency has Suns fans on edge, could be used in a sign-and-trade package for Love -- but only if he somehow signs an offer sheet with Minnesota. That's highly unlikely.
But this pause between prospect workouts also invited opinions regarding the efficacy of moving Dragic or Bledsoe even if Love is not part of the proceedings.
When this question was posed to a personnel-executive of another NBA team, his choice would be to move Dragic.
"I'm not saying it's what should happen," the executive said, "but if keeping both -- which in a year could cost them about $25 million or more combined -- isn't an option, it would be Dragic I'd move if I had to move someone now because his market value may never be this high again. He's coming off a career year, especially shooting the ball.
"And in a year, he probably won't command the same money Bledsoe can get, now, at 24, despite the knee history. There's always a risk with his opt out, though. They're different players, but their performance levels were similar this year and Bledsoe, I think, is just scratching the surface. Like I said, it's really tough to choose, especially since Dragic, from my understanding, is so popular in Phoenix."
That's one way to look at it, we suppose.
The fluidity of any Suns roster renovation also includes restricted free agent P.J. Tucker and the opt-out potential of Channing Frye. Tucker, who would love to remain with the team that gave him an opportunity, could fetch a bit more elsewhere than the Suns are prepared to pay.
Frye, seeking contract longevity, could re-sign here for less per year than what he's owed in his deal's final year, providing the Suns with more salary-cap flexibility.
The timing of all of this will be impacted by cap-hold issues that determine exactly how much loot the Suns can spend in free agency.
Part of the plan should be revealed on draft night, with the Suns (for now) sitting at Nos. 14, 18, 27 and 50 (second round).
With McDonough strongly indicating that suiting up three rookies next season is farfetched, Suns followers have been encouraged to imagine just how far the team could move up in the lottery.
Based on leaked information and misinformation around the league, there seems to be three tiers among the alleged top eight overall prospects.
Tier one features Kansas freshmen Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins along with one-and-done Duke star Jabari Parker.
Australian combo guard and rising Indiana freshman power forward Noah Vonleh are expected to occupy spots four and five.
The next three on most big boards are (in no particular order) Oklahoma State sophomore guard Marcus Smart and freshman forwards Aaron Gordon (Arizona) and Julius Randle (Kentucky).
According to reports, the Sacramento Kings are shopping the eighth overall pick.
The Suns, who could be more interested in selecting a player with star potential than targeting one of many areas of need, have been unable to lure any of the supposed top eight for a workout visit to Phoenix.
"We're trying to get all the top guys," McDonough said. "Like we've talked about before, what we'd consider doing for the right player is packaging picks to move up."
It has been presumed the Suns wouldn't mind landing one of two sophomore two guards from the Big Ten -- Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas or Michigan State's Gary Harris.
Also posited is the Charlotte Hornets zeroed in on Stauskas with the ninth pick.
Having a few more days left in the process, the Suns reportedly will bring in Stauskas and UCLA combo-position sophomore Kyle Anderson (who's been here already) before the draft.
There probably will be others, as McDonough and coach Jeff Hornacek resume that in-person approach.
"There's a difference when you see it on tape then you get to see them live," Hornacek said. "Quickness is one thing; sometimes they may look slow on tape, and you get them out here and you say, 'oh, that guy's got pretty good quickness.' So I like the workouts."
The rest of us like to imagine where they'll lead.