2023 NBA Draft: Who in the order could the Suns trade with?

Jun 21, 2023, 4:04 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2023, 7:37 am

Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers head coach...

Head coach Rick Carlisle of the Indiana Pacers directs his team in the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on April 09, 2023 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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It would not be surprising if, by the end of the 2023 NBA Draft, we’re making jokes about Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia’s new best friend, cash considerations.

Ishbia has been liberal about spending money to piece together a big three of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal.

Getting to 15 rostered players and potentially two more bodies on two-way contracts will cost him money with taxes hitting his bank account hard.

Saving relatively teensy amounts money and beginning to build a little sustainability on the backend of the roster could happen through the draft. Because the Durant and Beal trades will make the asset cupboard nearly barren, Ishbia could be forced to buy his way into the draft, this year or down the road.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported Tuesday that Phoenix expects to have its own pick at 52nd overall or a Washington-owned pick at 57th in the draft on Thursday, depending on the final Beal-for-Chris Paul deal.

But if a prospect the Suns like is projected to go higher and there’s reason for either a trade-up using that second-rounder or using straight cash, here are spots and teams that might be willing to part with a pick or more. The Deandre Ayton trade potential plays a role in a few of the teams on this list.

Potential trade partners for the Suns in the 2023 NBA Draft

Charlotte Hornets

— Picks 2, 27, 34, 39, 41

It could be a summer of massive makeover for a Hornets team that’s changing majority ownership from Michael Jordan. In Phoenix, we’ve seen lately how ownership change can set off a chain reaction, leaking down to the roster. Charlotte has nine players on fully guaranteed deals, plus tradeable veterans like Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier on pretty big but relatively tradeable contracts.

The Hornets are reportedly leaning to select wing Brandon Miller over guard Scoot Henderson with the No. 2 pick, but from there, anything is on the table.

My Empire of the Suns co-host Kellan Olson pitched — before the Bradley Beal trade — a Charlotte-Phoenix mock deal involving Deandre Ayton that returns Rozier, Cody Martin and the No. 34 pick. That would be a better-than-expected return for Ayton, whose stock is down, but it does fit a Hornets rebuild with new head coach Kenny Atkinson.

For a lesser value, you could substitute Hayward for Rozier. Hayward is aging and has an injury history but is coming off the books after this season. His defense and spot-up numbers would be major concerns.

Big Ayton deals aside, you’d think the Hornets try to package a few of their picks to trade up. There’s maybe room for maybe selling off one of their second-rounders.

Memphis Grizzlies

— Picks 25, 45, 56

The Grizzlies have 13 fully guaranteed players and continue to pile up picks. They’ve fully embraced using their later picks to build quite a developmental program.

There isn’t an obvious Ayton trade here but moreso just a team that might take straight cash if it gets shrug-worthy about the second round and doesn’t have roster space.

Orlando Magic

— Picks 6, 11, 36

There are seeds planted for a good team to grow here, starting with Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. An Ayton trade could maybe signal Orlando is getting serious, but it already has the underrated Wendell Carter Jr. at center and on a much cheaper deal.

It’s hard to peg how this team operates with two lottery selections.

That No. 36 pick could maybe be on the table if the several partially guaranteed contracts on the books for guys like Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac and Bol Bol are indeed picked up.

Indiana Pacers

— Picks 7, 26, 40, 55

You might remember the Pacers signed Ayton to a max contract offer last summer during restricted free agency, which helped put the Suns in this conundrum.

Indiana has 12 rostered players for next season, a glut at guard, and a couple of very tradeable contracts in center Myles Turner and shooter Buddy Hield.

They just swapped two later picks for a 2024 Denver Nuggets choice and the No. 40 overall selection. Indiana still has more wiggle room to move up, down, in or out.

San Antonio Spurs

— Picks 1, 33, 44

This is merely a guess, but the Spurs, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jake Fischer, will search out a free-agent center this offseason to give pending first-overall pick Victor Wembanyama the physical toll of playing the 5 as a rookie.

Acquiring Ayton would give San Antonio a push into the winning direction, keep the offensive spotlight far enough away from the 2018 first pick and fit the longer-term build.

The Spurs are one of the few teams that, by releasing some cap holds to its free agents, would be able to trade Ayton into space if they wanted. The question from there is just about what the Suns could squeeze out of the Spurs in that scenario. Draft picks might be a part of it.

Utah Jazz

— Picks 9, 16, 28

Brian Windhorst’s “Now why would they do that?” meme was sparked by this Jazz squad trading away Royce O’Neale last summer. Well, it was a signal of a rebuild, but that project is far from done.

Danny Ainge operates in the shadows, but we did hear from Gambadoro that the Jazz had at least some interest in an Ayton sign-and-trade. That would seemingly only be a sliver of a potential flurry of moves if the Jazz want to start chasing the postseason.

Like it is with the Pacers, suggesting an Ayton trade here assumes a lot, including that Utah isn’t put off completely by Ayton’s past season. More than that, it matters that Walker Kessler as a rookie looked just fine as a rim-roller and is probably already a top-three pure shot-blocker.

Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson (player option), Kelly Olynyk and Rudy Gay (player option) might be bigger-money rotation pieces the Suns could consider taking back if we are imagining this for some reason making sense still.

2023 NBA Draft full order

1. San Antonio
2. Charlotte
3. Portland
4. Houston
5. Detroit
6. Orlando
7. Indiana
8. Washington
9. Utah
10. Dallas
11. Orlando (from Chicago)
12. Oklahoma City
13. Toronto
14. New Orleans

15. Atlanta
16. Utah (from Minnesota)
17. Los Angeles Lakers
18. Miami
19. Golden State
20. Houston (from LA Clippers)
21. Brooklyn (from Phoenix)
22. Brooklyn
23. Portland (from New York)
24. Sacramento
25. Boston (from Memphis)
26. Indiana (from Cleveland)
27. Charlotte (from Denver via New York and Oklahoma City)
28. Utah (from Philadelphia via Brooklyn)
29. Denver (from Boston via Indiana)
30. LA Clippers (from Milwaukee via Houston)

31. Detroit
32. Denver (from Houston via Indiana)
33. San Antonio
34. Charlotte (from Charlotte via Philadelphia and Atlanta)
35. Washington (from Portland via Atlanta, LA Clippers, Detroit, Cleveland and Boston)
36. Orlando
37. Denver (from Washington via New Orleans and Oklahoma City)
38. Sacramento (from Indiana)
39. Charlotte (from Utah via New York)
40. Indiana (from Dallas via Oklahoma City and Denver)
41. Charlotte (from Oklahoma City via New York and Boston)
42. Washington (from Chicago via Los Angeles Lakers and Washington)
43. Portland (from Atlanta)
44. San Antonio (from Toronto)
45. Memphis (from Minnesota)
46. Atlanta (from New Orleans)
47. Los Angeles Lakers
48. LA Clippers
49. Cleveland (from Golden State via Utah and New Orleans)
50. Oklahoma City (from Miami via Boston, Memphis, and Dallas)
51. Brooklyn
52. Phoenix
53. Minnesota (from New York via Charlotte)
54. Sacramento
55. Indiana (from Cleveland via Milwaukee and Detroit)
56. Memphis
— Chicago (from Denver via Cleveland; forfeited by Chicago)
— Philadelphia (forfeited)
57. Washington (from Boston via Charlotte)
58. Milwaukee

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2023 NBA Draft: Who in the order could the Suns trade with?