EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Let’s name more dudes the Suns could target at the NBA trade deadline

Feb 7, 2024, 11:01 AM | Updated: 12:12 pm

We’ve gone in-depth about the limitations the Phoenix Suns face at the 2024 NBA trade deadline through several lenses.

But who might they be thinking about acquiring? And what’s even out there? Time to throw 20 names at the wall to see if they stick.

Let’s quickly start at the top of the rumor mill, where Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges is an obtainable and much-rumored target.

Bridges is on a $7.9 million expiring deal because of his legal issues stemming from a domestic assault charge and separate alleged violations of his parole. Those legal and moral issues are also why he probably won’t be traded for much, as ESPN analyst and former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks explained Wednesday on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta.

“I don’t see any team giving a first-round pick for Miles Bridges, I think based on a lot of (reasons) there,” Marks said. “Certainly the legal case, and it’s still pending. … He has a history.

“From Phoenix’s perspective, he’d be a three-month rental. The PR backlash you’ll get … you’re going to have to be pretty out front of this in terms of when you welcome him to the organization as far as what message you want to send to your fans and the people who buy tickets here.”

Moving past moral questions we hopefully don’t have to ask about Phoenix, which is under new leadership because of what happened under the last owner, there are role players who arguably are better fits than the 20-point-per-game scoring wing.

My Empire of the Suns co-host Kellan Olson already did this exercise, but here are a few more thoughts from a different human being.

One list of players Suns should target at the NBA trade deadline

The Suns’ issue is simply depth: Who is a reliable rotation player who brings value in one way or another?

As Kellan reminded me on our recent podcast, Phoenix isn’t in a great position to be picky.

Many of the names below are on contracts in the same range as Bridges’ deal, between $5-10 million.

Cody Martin would be the darkhorse type of pickup, a player on a bad Hornets team who is under contract through 2024-25 with a non-guaranteed year after that. If there are Suns-Hornets talks, you’d think the Suns at least ask about this guy if it’s worth giving up multiple picks and a player for salary.

Martin like his brother Caleb of the Miami Heat is a gritty wing who will do the dirty work around the margins and not complain about touches. He’s a sure-fire rotation guy who just hasn’t had a lot of three-point shooting success across multiple years. But he’s probably out of the question because of that multi-year deal.

Another guy who could be an ideal target (if he weren’t traded already): Jordan Nwora.

On an expiring $3 million contract, he was dealt from Indiana to Toronto in the Pascal Siakam blockbuster, a deal that possibly will be the biggest trade before the deadline. Nwora was directly tied to Phoenix in the Jae Crowder trade talks with the Milwaukee Bucks last season and at 6-foot-8 has the defensive potential Phoenix could use in a jumbo wing. The 25-year-old also has scoring pop and is shooting 47% from three on very limited attempts this year.

Problem is, Nwora has actually played a bit for the struggling Raptors and is a Buffalo native who seems like he’s now off the market after not finding a role for the Pacers earlier this season. A shame from Phoenix’s perspective.

Speaking of the Pacers, who sub their bench like a hockey team and lean on depth, true point guard T.J. McConnell seems too necessary even behind Tyrese Haliburton. Coach Rick Carlisle basically called him imperative to Indiana when the team last visited Phoenix.

Wing Aaron Nesmith has been a favorite of mine since he came out of Vanderbilt for his underrated defense and shooting chops, but he’s broken out too much this year to be dealt.

Sticking in big wing territory, the Nets’ Dorian Finney-Smith makes $13.4 million this year with another season on his deal. That doesn’t line up with what Phoenix has to offer unless the team trades multiple players and multiple picks. As Marks has suggested, teammate Royce O’Neale is a more realistic 3-and-D wing the Suns could have for a second-round pick or two.

Isaac Okoro‘s name has been thrown out there and that’s great, but he’s firmly in the rotation for a Cleveland Cavaliers team that hasn’t lost since Jan. 24.

The Chicago Bulls continually hem and haw about if they should be a competitive team or not, so I would not get excited about the Suns acquiring any solid role guys like Alex Caruso or Ayo Dosunmu. Wishful thinking.

Let’s do the annual Torrey Craig trade. Maybe Andre Drummond? But the buyout market makes more sense to land another big-bodied center.

Who is surely in open szn for trades?

Those very bad Detroit Pistons!

Killian Hayes has worn out his welcome and reportedly wants out. He is set to be a restricted free agent and is close to a pure point guard — and a bigger one at that — but his sub-30 % three-point shooting and overall blah scoring skillset might be limiting.

The Washington Wizards are also not in a great spot, and Delon Wright is a guy who can bring a little shooting, enough playmaking and some defensive juice in limited minutes.

Hornets backup guard and former Sun Ish Smith isn’t as zippy at 35 years old and doesn’t have the size to hold up defensively against some players, but he’s still a distributor and pace-pusher. A McConnell Lite, if you will.

Simone Fontecchio is a 6-foot-7 Utah Jazz wing who can shoot the lights out (39% from three) and is an underrated, albeit not great defender. The Athletic’s Tony Jones linked him to the Suns, and everyone should be in favor of that because yelling “pizza, pasta, Fontecchio!” after he scores is a thing. Editor’s note: Fontecchio was traded to the Pistons a minute after this story went live.

San Antonio Spurs wing Cedi Osman, who is also on an expiring deal, makes sense as a ball-mover and complementary offensive piece. He’s another rotation guy who could fit very well alongside the Big Three.

The Houston Rockets’ early success for their young squad has reportedly put them in the mood to be buyers.

Veteran wing and one-time Sun Reggie Bullock has not played much. He’s only a year removed from being a 55-game starter for a thin Dallas Mavericks team that relied on his deep shooting and physical defense. The issue is what Phoenix could give up to help this year’s version of the Rockets. Eric Gordon back? Josh Okogie to do less rude Dillon Brooks stuff? Probably not from both teams’ perspectives!

Let’s get back to the Raptors, who have expiring veterans in forward Otto Porter ($6.3 million), Thaddeus Young ($8 million) and Garrett Temple ($3 million). Porter is coming off a knee sprain but with the Warriors a few years back briefly was a key complementary piece. Young at 35 years old might be the most viable rotation player of the group.

On a deal with two years left, Jalen McDaniels was a name Phoenix fans liked to keep an eye on in the past year during his Charlotte days. He’s oddly not seen a massive bump in playing time since the Siakam trade despite having floor-spacing and defensive potential. It’s been rough out there all around.

The 34% shooting and 21% from deep splits are not great, but *said with a rising pitch because I’m unsure and lying to myself* maybe that helps lower his stock?

Anyway, the market is sluggish. Rumors are iffy.

There’s a high chance the Suns do nothing until it’s buyout market time. Or they do something overly aggressive and pick off a rotation player not named among the 20-some people above.

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Let’s name more dudes the Suns could target at the NBA trade deadline