Jon Bloom, Bryan Gibberman, Kevin Zimmerman and Kellan Olson give their thoughts on what the Suns should do at the NBA trade deadline.
1. Who is the most likely Suns player to be traded?
Jon Bloom: This conversation starts and ends with Markieff Morris even after his turnaround of late under Earl Watson. Hopefully what that has shown is that he can still be productive when properly motivated, and has resulted in raising his value among the other teams in the league. From what I’m hearing, Mirza Teletovic may draw the most interest since a bunch of squads could use a guy with his skills, especially considering his short & sweet contract.
Bryan Gibberman: I think P.J. Tucker is the answer here. There’s complications with Tyson Chandler and Markieff Morris that can make moving them complicated. Tucker still has value and is on a good contract. Only $1.5 million of his slightly over $5 million salary is guaranteed for next season, too.
Kevin Zimmerman: The Suns will do all they can to move Markieff Morris. No matter how you view his place on the team or his production, it’s clear fans want him gone. The owner probably does, too. Business-wise it’s the right move even if it’s not so clear-cut from a basketball-standpoint.
Kellan Olson: Despite the backing of Markieff Morris from new interim coach Earl Watson, he’s the most likely player to be traded. Everyone came to a realization that the Suns were never going to get fair value on Morris after the fiasco last summer, but they are probably going to get more value than they were then. While he’s the most likely, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Suns held onto Morris until this summer with this season going nowhere and his current contract.
2. With the current situation on the team, who should the Suns trade?
JB: It’s been nice to see Markieff respond so well to the new boss, but I still believe he needs a new home both for him and the Suns to turn the page on this saga. It could also be wise to test the market for Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, but it’s unlikely they’d be able to get that type of quality and experienced players in return based on Knight’s health, and Chandler’s age/length of contract. I would like to see the team hold on to P.J. Tucker because it is hard to find a guy that brings the type of energy and intensity he brings on a consistent basis, but I could foresee him getting some value in return depending on the trade partner.
BG: Brandon Knight is the guy I’d be looking to move on from. He’s not worth his contract and I’d be concerned about Knight being unhappy with his role going forward with the team. I can’t see him being excited about potentially coming off the bench behind Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe in the future. This is a problem the Suns should try to get ahead of and nip in the bud by moving him now.
KZ: Tyson Chandler is the obvious choice, but trading one of Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight would give Phoenix even more spending money while undoing the backcourt logjam for Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin (and maybe Bogdan Bodganovic). If we’re talking more realistic terms, gaining an asset in return for any one of the three power forwards would also be impressive.
KO: There are a lot of candidates to choose from. At power forward there’s Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic with one year left on their contracts and Morris. All three are rotation players and Teletovic in particular could have a big role on a contender with his shooting. There’s a current shortage of wings in the NBA and a lot of contenders could use P.J. Tucker. Unless a contender is desperate and a can’t miss deal comes across, I’d expect Tyson Chandler and the backcourt to stay for now.
3. Who is a player you would like to see the Suns acquire?
JB: Besides the obvious (Steph “Cheat Code” Curry, LeBron, The Unibrow etc…), I’ll stay true to what I’ve been thinking throughout the season — go get New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson. I realize he’s on an expiring deal, but maybe coming to Phoenix for the last couple months of the season will be enough to sell him on joining this young core of players. If it doesn’t work out, Anderson leaves for another spot, and the Suns are still left with plenty of cash to spend on other options in free agency. I could also see this working out with Markieff going back to his old coach Alvin Gentry, although it would be another painful experience should he step his game up a notch down in the Big Easy.
BG: I’d make a run at Hawks big man Al Horford. I know he’s going on 30 and might even make the Suns win some more games this season, which isn’t optimal, but he’s worth it. A 1-2 punch of Horford and Bledsoe is an excellent starting point for a team. He can flip between the center and power forward positions, plus is good on both ends of the court.
KZ: Ivan Rabb. Stephen Zimmerman. Either I’m naming players the Arizona Wildcats missed on in last year’s recruiting class or I’m giving you a few examples of what type of talent is available in the middle of the first round should the Suns nab a solid first-round pick at the trade deadline.
KO: Any young asset a contender is willing to let go of. Some possible examples include the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, who have a truckload of future first-round picks and former first-round selections not in their playoff rotation.