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Ryan McDonough: Suns not feeling forced at 2018 NBA trade deadline

Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough answers a question during an NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Ryan McDonough, Suns general manager

Over the last three NBA trade deadlines, the Phoenix Suns weren’t just active. They were forced into being active.

From players requesting trades to the Suns having no reason not to ship off an expiring contract in order to get some compensation, general manager Ryan McDonough has been busy.

Finally, in 2018, he can relax — or at least not feel pressured into making a deal as he allows his young team to develop.

“You never want to feel like there’s something you have to do or forced to do,” McDonough told Burns & Gambo Wednesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I think when those situations have come up, for the most part we’ve done a good job, with one exception, and scrambled and kind of made it work and done the best we could. This year, we’re not in that position.”

Related: Reviewing the Suns’ biggest, most recent deadline trades

The Suns would, of course, like to add talent. McDonough would consider that if it didn’t require giving up the young players on the roster or the Suns’ first-round pick for 2018.

Asked specifically about a trade rumor that cropped up on Wednesday involving second-year forward Marquese Chriss, McDonough said he hadn’t gone down that avenue.

“I think it’s highly unlikely we move a member of our young core,” McDonough said. “We believe in Marquese, we like his talent, we like his potential. I’m not sure where that specific (report) comes from given that really nothing with Marquese has been discussed.

“I don’t see anything there (happening). Again, I mentioned our young core wanting to keep that intact — unless some blockbuster comes out of the works over the next 23 or 24 hours that hasn’t been discussed previously, I don’t see that happening,” he added. “I’m certain that’s somebody else putting that out there for whatever reason.”

All that said, the Suns are likely to have two first-round picks in the 2018 draft. They also have multiple second-round choices, depending on how protections and trade details work themselves out.

Phoenix could move one or more of those picks now — or wait until draft night with the expectation they would not benefit from bringing more than two or three rookies into camp.

McDonough added that while long-term additions are the priority, so is filling in a point guard spot hit hard by injuries and transactions.

Though the Suns are one of seven NBA teams with more than $15 million in cap space as of Wednesday, a leveling-out market will limit their willingness to take on any major financial additions.

“I think we’d only cut into it if we could get a talented young player on a good contract who fit with our core,” McDonough said. “This summer I think you’re going to see a market correction in the NBA where when the salary cap spiked two years ago in 2016 and teams spent a lot of money. It was, in my opinion, like a bubble economy that people thought would last forever and, you know, teams said ‘we’ll spend all the money and we’ll be able to trade these contracts down the line.’

“We’re in an advantageous position because we don’t have those problems. We value that space and I think, you know, it’s not a great time to be a free agent player, to be honest with you, but it is for a team with cap space.”

For that reason, it seems unlikely the Suns unloading veterans like Tyson Chandler or Jared Dudley would be easy at the deadline with their eight-figure salaries not coming off the books for another season.

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