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ESPN’s Lowe: Phoenix Suns ‘hard to predict’ as trade deadline looms

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love, right, drives past Washington Wizards' Thomas Bryant in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

As of Monday morning, there are relatively few rumblings around the NBA with the Thursday trade deadline looming.

For the Phoenix Suns, it’s not even clear if they’re leaning toward buying, selling or standing pat.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe brought up the Suns as a “wild card” after mentioning a quiet trade market for Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, and that’s because teams don’t know what Phoenix wants or what it is willing to give up in any trade.

The Cavs appear to have very little market for Kevin Love right now, sources say. Everything is malleable until Thursday’s deadline, but nothing appears serious on the Love front at this moment. The wild card was always Phoenix. The Suns are hard to predict. Rivals struggle to get a feel for the Suns’ objectives.

Right now, there isn’t a ton of Phoenix noise, but you always have to watch out.

The Suns (20-29) sit four games back of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, and it’s looking increasingly likely that the roster as currently assembled will fall short if the team wants to make a run back up the standings. That said, Lowe mentions that Suns owner Robert Sarver has made it clear he would like to push for a playoff spot sooner rather than later.

Regarding the Love-to-Phoenix connection that Lowe makes, the Suns’ turn away from a traditional power forward in Dario Saric and toward a small-ball lineup with Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mikal Bridges might lead us down a path of assuming the Suns wouldn’t be interested in Love.

Because of his age (31) and contract that pays him $31.3 million over the next two years and $28.9 million in 2022-23, Love’s fit in Phoenix looks even more odd.

The Suns do have some pieces they could part with, for a player making that much money or otherwise.

Backup center Aron Baynes is on an expiring deal, but the Suns value his leadership and might want to re-sign him this offseason. More likely to be dealt is Saric, who has lost minutes and his starting role of late.

The power forward is a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason and missed Phoenix’s loss Sunday to the Milwaukee Bucks with a sprained ankle.

Guard Tyler Johnson is another interesting name to consider in trades because of his $19 million expiring contract. While he has struggled in limited minutes, Johnson’s salary could be used to help swing a deal for a big name — whether to Phoenix or to help two other teams consummate a bigger trade.

Looking league-wide, Golden State Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell and Houston Rockets center Clint Capela are garnering the most trade speculation as of Monday morning.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday that the Rockets had a few options lining up a Capela deal to “a host of Eastern Conference franchises,” while The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Monday that the Timberwolves were discussing trade scenarios to acquire Russell from Golden State.

Maybe the Suns could help get one of those trades done between two other teams, picking up a draft pick or viable rotation player in the process.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that general manager James Jones runs a front office with few leaks and not much day-to-day chatter with other NBA executives. He has certainly, in the past, made it public that he doesn’t tend to speak with reporters hunting for trade scuttle, either.


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