PHOENIX SUNS

ESPN trade that should happen: Al Jefferson to Suns for Dragic, Gortat

Feb 20, 2013, 4:35 PM | Updated: 6:37 pm

It looks like ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh would like to see the Phoenix Suns get ripped off.

In an ESPN Insider piece (ie: subscription only) titled “Seven trades that should happen”, Haberstroh writes the Suns should come to an agreement with the Utah Jazz that would bring Al Jefferson, Mo Williams and Earl Watson to Phoenix in exchange for Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye and Wesley Johnson.

Because, you know, that makes sense.

A straight salary dump for a Suns franchise that is going nowhere and fast. Like the Dallas Mavericks, the Utah Jazz have an array of expiring contracts that could be attractive for teams looking to slash long-term payroll. By firing coach Al Gentry earlier this season, the Suns have clearly waved the white flag on 2012-13, and starting from scratch appears to be the No. 1 priority going forward. If there is a priority list.

At this point, the Suns should engage in full-out tank mode for the top pick in the draft, even though University of Kentucky star Nerlens Noel recently tore his ACL. Dealing Dragic and Gortat now would probably ensure a top-three pick, especially with a healthy John Wall steering the Wizards out the basement.

Jefferson, 28, is a solid player who is averaging 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season. There’s no arguing that this trade would make the Suns worse, but do they really need to part with Dragic, who is their best young piece, and Gortat, who is one of their more tradeable assets, just to land expiring contracts?

Because while cap space is nice, the Suns will have to have some players on the roster next season.

The Suns already have the worst record in the Western Conference and the fifth-worst mark in all of basketball, so there may not be much need to reshape the roster in hopes of more losing — they’re doing plenty of that with the players they have now.

And, in theory, wouldn’t it make sense for the Suns to have a player like Dragic around in the coming years? You know, so there is actually some talent surrounding the future lottery pick?

But, it would appear, this deal is more about what it does for the Jazz than what it does for the Suns.

If the Jazz can’t land (L.A.’s Eric) Bledsoe, they should direct their attention to Dragic, who is quietly delivering another solid campaign at 26 years old. He’s young enough to grow with Favors and Kanter, but savvy enough to make some noise in the playoffs with this Jazz crew. Gortat’s contract expires after the 2013-14 season and he could be trade bait at the end of the season if he doesn’t fit with the team’s plans long term.

Indeed, the deal would be great for Utah. But it takes two to tango, and it’s tough to see a trade like this being of any interest to the Suns.

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