The Phoenix Suns were one of the NBA’s most active teams at the NBA trade deadline last month.
In all, three separate trades were engineered by general manager Ryan McDonough. Gone are Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis. Now in the fold are Brandon Knight, Marcus Thornton and Danny Granger, as well as three future first-round picks.
One might think that sort of roster upheaval would mean the Suns are comfortable with their roster heading into the near future, but that might not be the case.
“That’s a good question,” McDonough responded when asked by Burns and Gambo Wednesday about whether the roster would need a tweak or a rebuild in the coming offseason.
“It’s maybe somewhere between those two terms, I can’t think of the word for it right now. But maybe some more significant tweaks,” he said. “I don’t think we need a mass overhaul, I like our talent, especially our young talent.
“The trades we made at the deadline, there was a reason for it and it’s been kind of consistent with our plan to line up a group of guys that are similarly aged.”
McDonough pointed out that eight players on the Phoenix roster are between the ages of 20 and 25.
“We have a group of players within four or five years of each other who are very young relative to the guys that are playing a lot of minutes around the league, but at the same time are pretty good,” McDonough said. “We still have a winning record in the Western Conference despite our recent struggles.
“I think that group will grow and develop and I think we’ll continue to get better as a team as some of these older teams in the Western Conference fall off as their core gets old or guys leave in free agency.”
The strength of the Western Conference can’t be understated in determining the Suns’ strategy. The Oklahoma City Thunder, currently the conference’s eighth-seed, is a legitimate title contender powered by the superstar duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (when healthy).
But other teams ahead of the Thunder, like the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, have aging members of their respective rotations. That could open the door for the Suns to become a perennial playoff team starting in the very near future.
That, plus the Suns’ accrued assets, have the second-year GM very bullish on the team’s future.
“Our draft pick situation going forward is good. We have more cap space as the result of these trades at the deadline and we also have good flexibility down the road to swing some big deals.”