Suns trade grades: Reviewing Ryan McDonough’s 2014-15 deals
Heading into the 2017 NBA trade deadline, we’re reviewing every one of the Phoenix Suns’ trades since general manager Ryan McDonough was hired before the 2013-14 season.
The 2014-15 season included a flurry of Phoenix Suns trades, two of which involving Isaiah Thomas and Brandon Knight were painful trade deadline deals.
July 12, 2014
Suns acquire: Isaiah Thomas
Kings acquire: Alex Oriakhi and a Traded Player Exception
Kevin Zimmerman: A+++. Complain about adding another ball-dominant lead guard all you want in hindsight. In hindsight, it was still a killer deal to get Thomas for four years and $28 million. That was as tradeable an asset McDonough has gotten — it just all fell apart when the Suns ticked off Goran Dragic and decided to deal both he and Thomas anyway. That Phoenix got nothing in return is something for another discussion later on.
Kellan Olson: A formality in signing Thomas, who was always at worst going to be someone easy to move for at least a decent asset if the three-guard rotation didn’t work. About that….. A+
Dec. 24, 2014
Suns acquire: Tony Mitchell
Pistons acquire: Anthony Tolliver
Kevin Zimmerman: So the Suns traded a very viable three-point shooter for a player waived less than three weeks later. That’s a D-, even if Tolliver was struggling to shoot, hadn’t quite filled the expectations of becoming Channing Frye’s replacement, and was on the books for two years with only $400,000 guaranteed in the second year.
Kellan Olson: A bad deal all-around. They bailed on Tolliver in a hurry, earning a D as he continues to prove he’s at least an NBA player. Frye replacement or not, he should have stuck around.
Jan. 9, 2015
Suns acquire: Brandan Wright
Celtics acquire: First-round pick (via the Timberwolves in the Robin Lopez trade) that under a top-12 protection conveyed to two second-round picks.
Kevin Zimmerman: It turns out this wasn’t giving up much considering the Suns guessed correctly that Minnesota would be bad for the foreseeable future. Considering Phoenix’s attempts at making a playoff push — remember, they were 22-17 despite the unstable three-guard rotation at this point — Wright was a major upgrade over Alex Len and Miles Plumlee, who had taken a step backward. I give it a B.
Kellan Olson: I’m giving the Suns an F here because they made a win-now move with Wright, a useful rental, but in less than two months, they blew up their current situation and are now in a spot where they could have used any asset possible. It was an oversight and lack of understanding as to how unhappy Goran Dragic was. The No. 35 pick Rade Zagorac, by the way, was taken one spot ahead of Malcolm Brodgon, who should finish second in Rookie of the Year voting. Don’t sleep on the value of second-round picks.
Jan. 15, 2015
Suns acquire: Reggie Bullock
Celtics acquire: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Shavlik Randolph, 2017 second-round pick
Clippers acquire: Austin Rivers
Kevin Zimmerman: A fairly meh trade all-around, the Suns nabbed a young shooting guard in Bullock for a veteran big. Bullock hardly had opportunities to build value behind the usual overloaded backcourt. I give it a C.
Kellan Olson: I think Reggie Bullock is a much better basketball player than Shavlik Randolph, thus revealing how much of a nerd I am since I can even say something like that with a straight face. With that in mind, I give it a B.
Feb. 19, 2015
Suns acquire: Danny Granger, John Salmons, 2018 top-7 protected (unprotected in 2019) first-round pick, 2021 unprotected first-round pick, cash
Heat acquire: Goran Dragic, Zoran Dragic
Pelicans acquire: Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, Shawne Williams and cash.
Kevin Zimmerman: Torn, I give this a C+. Indeed, Phoenix’s two first-round picks were incredible gets considering the way Dragic asked out. But I had to knock McDonough for putting himself in that situation in the first place. So where Kellan dings McDonough for the Dragic fiasco in the Wright deal, I’m going to do it here.
Kellan Olson: My perspective is McDonough had a gun to his head when Dragic not only leaked the amount of teams he would re-sign with (under five!), but then proceeded to leak which teams they were (!). Getting two first-round picks that could both be very good ones at that is an incredible accomplishment. Still, making Dragic that pissed gets a downgrade for me, so I bump it down to a A-.
Suns acquire: Marcus Thornton, conditional 2016 first-round pick (Cleveland)
Celtics acquire: Isaiah Thomas and a Traded Player exception
Kevin Zimmerman: F. Just, F. I don’t even think we needed hindsight to say that — we just didn’t see this deal as being separate enough from the Brandon Knight acquisition to complain about it. We were too caught up in the whole, “having three talented guards is a big problem” issue.
Kellan Olson: Thomas is averaging almost 30 points a game and is one of the biggest stars in the NBA in case you didn’t know. So, yeah, even at the time this didn’t make any sense and it makes even less sense every time he has a fourth-quarter explosion. Easy F.
Suns acquire: Brandon Knight, Kendall Marshall
Bucks acquire: Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis, Miles Plumlee
Sixers acquire: Top-3 protected 2015 first-round pick (Lakers)
Kevin Zimmerman: That Lakers draft pick just might convey in 2016, in a draft considered deep. In hindsight considering Brandon Knight’s unfathomable struggles, that’s bad, but I’m giving this a D-. Why? I have to separate this from the Thomas trade, and that one was much worse because the Suns knew Thomas was good and gave him away for nothing. On the other hand, they very reasonably thought Knight was also good — that he’s doing so poorly is still unthinkable.
Kellan Olson: Kevin is right, but I think it’s a crime to not give this trade an F. Bottom line is the Suns, even if they were high on Knight’s potential, knew it was a risk to declare him as the “future All-Star” they were waiting patiently to trade for with their best trade asset at the time. He’s trying really hard this year and I feel bad for him, but he’s been one of the worst players in the league. It’s less on the Suns than the Thomas trade, but like I said, it was not a sure thing.
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