Two days remain before the NBA trade deadline. As reports become more frequent heading into Thursday, we want to keep up with what might be an active trade deadline for the Phoenix Suns. Here, we’ll recap the news over the past few days with a little analysis while also riffing off comments from those around the NBA.
First, the news.
• The Suns are at least curious about the possibility of adding Jazz big man Derrick Favors.
• Suns GM Ryan McDonough spoke to John Gambadoro about the Suns’ interest in adding DeMarcus Cousins after the Kings traded him to New Orleans.
• Boston likes P.J. Tucker, joining many others.
• McDonough said he’s not thinking about trading Eric Bledsoe.
THINKING OF STANDING PAT?
The Phoenix Suns are playing hardball on the trade market. Worst case? They stand pat while staying the course of building from scratch.
The cost of that might be a second-round pick or two.
Holding out for a first-round pick in exchange for a core player like P.J. Tucker might be wishful thinking. But beyond Tucker, ESPN’s Marc Stein says Phoenix is showing reluctance to deal another tradable veteran, center Tyson Chandler.
“We know P.J. Tucker is in play, and I think we expect him to be moved this week,” Stein said. “We know they’ve been trying for ages to move Brandon Knight with zero success. I can’t find anyone who’s angling to take on Brandon Knight at this point. But the question mark for me is Tyson Chandler. The word consistently from the Suns is he’s not available.
“I know Portland was trying and trying and trying on Tyson, didn’t get him, did the (Jusuf) Nurkic trade,” Stein said. “I don’t think Chandler wants to go, I think he wants to stay in Phoenix. But that’s what I think we got to keep our eye on.”
Chandler is close to Suns coach Earl Watson dating back to his high school days growing up in the Los Angeles area. The Suns coach said earlier that Chandler decided against being traded in the offseason when he had the opportunity to be moved.
It’s been a productive season for the 34-year-old, who has two more seasons and $26.6 million left on his current contract. Chandler is averaging 8.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, and ranks fifth in the NBA with a rebound percentage of 22.9.
Signed two summers ago to help the Suns recruit then-free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, Stein and Lowe wondered aloud if Phoenix values Chandler beyond his mentorship to the team’s young players.
“Only one thing I would say: In honor of your old friend Bill Simmons, let’s do one conspiracy theory. Do you keep Tyson Chandler only in the event someday the Spurs would trade (LaMarcus) Aldridge and Aldridge wants to go to Phoenix because Tyson’s there?” Stein asked.
Of course, the 15-year veteran’s relationships across the NBA span wider than just Aldridge. Lowe surmised Phoenix could be forward-thinking three or four moves down the line.
But what if a team makes a play for Chandler by dangling a first-round pick?
How Phoenix would react to that is the biggest question, but it’s realistic to think Phoenix just might not get much for any of the players it could be interested in shipping off.
Speaking of which …
TUCKER’S VALUE WILL BE TESTED
All it takes is one.
One team might be desperate enough to send Phoenix a first-round pick to land Tucker. After all, as Basketball Insider’s Michael Scotto reported to confirm previous other reports, a good chunk of the league would consider acquiring the defensive specialist.
“I don’t think so,” Stein said of Phoenix’s chances at landing a first-rounder for Tucker alone.
“I would say no to that,” Lowe added.
At least there’s opportunity for a mini bidding war.
The Celtics are one of the latest to be included among the potential suitors. They have a trove of second-round picks, but considering Phoenix might not want such a thing, that may not help them deal. But are two second-rounders valuable to the Suns, who could then package them to move up for an earlier second-round pick in a 2017 draft that’s quite deep?
That might be the “price point,” as Lowe put it.
TIME IS TICKING
As we discussed on the Empire of the Suns podcast this week, the one Suns nugget attached to the Cousins sweepstakes was that the Kings were not willing to take on the contract — one that runs through 2019-20 — of point guard Brandon Knight, per Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher.
Now it’s a matter if the Suns sell low on Knight or keep him past the deadline. Doing the latter might put them in the grim position of needing to sweeten a hypothetical trade that dumps Knight’s contract. Could they have to give up another asset or player just to have another team take on Knight’s deal?
“If they got a second(-round pick) for Brandon Knight, I would be pretty impressed honestly,” Lowe said on his podcast. “If they can get off of that contract without having to pay for it, I’d be impressed.”
ABOUT THOSE KINGS …
Could the Suns have just found another threat in their chase to the bottom of the NBA standings and the top of the 2017 NBA Draft?
Sacramento sits six games ahead of Phoenix after dealing Cousins.
That’s a buffer for the Suns’ lottery chances but not much if a team featuring Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein — and oh yeah, Buddy Hield — can’t win while a Suns squad standing pat continues improving.