PHOENIX — Get used to it.
The Phoenix Suns are going to be linked to one team or another and one player or another between now and the NBA trade deadline Feb. 20. That’s just how this game is played.
The latest name to surface is Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol.
Yes, the report Super Bowl Sunday caught the attention of both coaches and players, but that’s about it.
“We don’t even worry about that as coaches,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “If we get a call from (GM) Ryan (McDonough) and those guys saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to trade for Gasol’ then the coaches, we deal with that and then we make our adjustments. We don’t really concern ourselves with what might happen. There’s so many rumors that go out there.”
The Suns are an attractive trade partner for teams because they have a number of valuable assets, be it draft picks (possible four first-round picks in 2014) or cap-friendly contracts, including Emeka Okafor’s expiring $14.5 million deal.
Also, the Suns are playing well — winners of eight of their last 10 to move into sixth place in the Western Conference — so it would make sense for the front office to explore their options on possibly adding a piece or two for the stretch run.
“We all know that Pau is a great player. He’s a four-time All-Star. I even know him personally,” point guard Goran Dragic said following practice Monday. “But nobody is thinking about that as players because we just want to play. If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen. Ryan — he’s doing a good job. What he’s going to do, I think, it’s only going to be for a good cause for the team. We are just here to play and try to win that game (Tuesday vs. Chicago Bulls).”
Considering a trade over the next 17 days, the Suns do need to be wary of what adding, or perhaps even subtracting, a player would do to team chemistry, which has been lauded by those both in and outside the organization. How well the coaches and players get along and work together is viewed as the number-one reason why the Suns have gone from projected lottery to projected playoff participants.
“Our guys have great chemistry,” Hornacek said. “If they ever do anything to bring a guy in here, that guy is going to have to figure out what makes us good chemistry wise and he’s going to have to fit in. But again, (the coaches) don’t worry about that stuff. If it happens it happens, then we deal with it then.”