Phoenix has a history of making a splash at the trade deadline.
Since Ryan McDonough was hired as General Manager Phoenix has not been shy to pull the trigger on trades. McDonough has hit some incredible home runs in his short career:
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Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for Jared Dudley and a 2nd-round pick.
Pacers 2013 1st-round pick, Gerald Green, and Mile Plumlee for Luis Scola.
Wizards 2013 1st-round pick for Marcin Gortat, Kendall Marshall, and Shannon Brown.
Heat’s 2019 and 2021 1st-round pick for Goran Dragic.
Wizards 2016 1st-round pick for Markieff Morris
With the trade deadline 11 days from now, the question is if McDonough will swing for the fence once again. The Suns have a plethora of assets at their disposal. From young players to a number of draft picks, he can reshape the roster over night.. Here are three home run trades that the Suns should go after.
T.J. Warren, Brandon Knight, 2018 1st-round pick, and 2019 1st-round pick (via Miami)
Jimmy Butler would make the Suns wing presence one of the best in the league. Booker, Bledsoe, and Butler would have the offensive fire power to compete with a majority of the league on their own. What separates Butler from other players the Suns could trade for is his defensive abilities. He has the offensive skillset to put up 25 points a game while possessing the defensive aggressiveness of P.J. Tucker.
There is no hiding the animosity between Jimmy Butler and the Chicago front office. Most recently, ESPN radio host Ryan Russillo revealed how bleak Butler’s relationship with Bulls management. The story goes, after the third year into his rookie contract Butler was playing fairly well and by the end of the season the Bulls were looking to resign him. The contract offered was 4 years $44 million. Butler declined the offer believing he deserved more especially since Klay Thompson was maxed out by the Warriors with a 4 year $70 million extension. Russillo dives into the theory and states he was told a member of the Bulls front office explained to Butler that if he did not accept the offer they were going to play Tony Snell over him and tank his market value. At the time Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau caught wind of this and thought it was ridiculous, so he played Butler 38 minutes a night the next season leading to Butler averaging 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. He was then able to demand a 5 year $95 million contract from Chicago.
This story combined with Butler’s, Wade’s, and Rondo’s media blitz and open criticism of the team could be the tipping point for Chicago.
The Suns have the trade chips to make a move. To replace Butler the Bulls could demand T.J. Warren. Warren may not have the defensive prowess of Butler but does have the scoring capabilities. Before Warren’s injury and the rise of Booker and Bledsoe, Warren was averaging 18 point per game going into December. Warren is arguably much farther along offensively than Butler was at 23-years old. He is still young and is coming to the end of his rookie contract where the Bulls could sign him long-term.
Knight needs a change of scenery. For the Suns, this would take his contract off the books while freeing up more playing time for Ulis to develop. For Chicago, they would be taking the chance that Knight can bounce back. Before Phoenix traded for him, Knight was averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists for the Bucks at an All-Star level. He is only 24-years old and there is a great chance that if Chicago gave him starting minutes he could return to form. It does not hurt that Knight’s contract will be extremely friendly with the next cap jump.
The real prize for Chicago will be the unprotected two 1st-round picks. If Chicago decides to move on from Butler most likely that would assume that they would be moving away from Dwayne Wade and would have to start over through the draft.
Nov 15, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23), center DeMarcus Cousins (15) and forward Omri Casspi (18) celebrate after the win against the San Antonio Spurs at Sleep Train Arena.The Sacramento Kings defeated the San Antonio Spurs 94-91. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Len, T.J. Warren, Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss 2018 1st-round pick, 2019 and 2021 1st-round picks (via Miami)
DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, and Omri Casspi
Acquiring DeMarcus Cousins would be the equivalent of the 1992 trade for Charles Barkley. Cousins is loud, egotistical, frank, and outspoken. Almost every rumor about him indicates you would not want this man on your favorite team. But he is the Boogie monster for a reason. Cousins is the best center in the NBA, averaging 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. The only player that comes close to comparison of his production is the frequently injured Anthony Davis.
A team composed of Boogie, Booker, and Bledsoe would be surefire for the playoffs. In a dream world Boogie would be Booker’s Shaq. Young Kobe was always known as a high octane gun slinger; similar to Booker. What Kobe had that Booker does not is a formidable center that can post 28 and 12 on any given night. For Cousins, he would finally have a team that can score from the wing as well as have young talent to grow with.
There is no doubt the Suns would have to trade a ton for DeMarcus. They might even have to give up the whole farm. McDonough might decide anyone not named Bledsoe or Booker is available. Trading three 1st-round picks as well as their lottery pick from last year would be the Kings accepting their flawed management strategies of the past and start anew. Warren and Knight will most likely be involved in any trade scenario but the Kings would value them highly. Both would instantly become starters for the Kings especially with the injury to Rudy Gay and Darren Collison being a below average starter.
If the Kings called and offered this trade, believe whole heartedly that McDonough would take the offer with a ‘no takies-backsies’ clause attached and then send a thank you fruit basket to Vlade Divac.
Dec 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) against Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the 76ers 123-116. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Knight for Jahlil Okafor
This could be McDonough’s redemption for the Knight trade. This trade is the definition of a win-win situation. McDonough traded the Lakers top-3 protected pick last year for Knight. Unfortunately, that trade might have the potential to go down as the worst Suns trade of all-time.
Okafor is in a situation where he is completely unneeded. Not just is he stuck in a situation where he can not be utilized because of a ridiculous logjam, but the fans, his teammates, and coaching staff are all against him. There were reports earlier in the season Embiid would refuse to acknowledge Okafor’s presence and then outburst in the middle of games about his lack of defensive effort. Just recently Okafor has been held out of games because of the trade possibilities surrounding him. Yesterday one of his teammates tweeted out his goodbyes to Okafor and he has not even been traded yet.
If Okafor is truly available, he is a pure diamond in the rough. Okafor’s post game is where he thrives and where he is mout valuable. Good might even be an understatement; his post up scoring abilities is far beyond his years. The problem is, outside of scoring and rebounding he can not do much else. His defense overall is atrocious. On the 76ers alone, Okafor is ranked last in defensive rating and second to last in defensive win shares.
The Suns should be more than willing to take a chance on Okafor, especially if it means at the price of Knight. The chance for an elite scoring big man at the cost of an out of rotation guard?
Knight is in a similar situation were he is out of place and unneeded. Last season Knight averaged 19.6 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.6 rebounds before being demoted behind Booker. The demotion to the second unit has had a psychological effect on him. That is the only feasible reason for his drastic fall in production. This season in 22 minutes a game he is only posting 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. He is a starting guard in this league but needs the opportunity to be able to play his game and he is not going to find playing time behind Booker. Philly trading for Knight and letting his return to his Bucks form could be a steal for them.