This offseason, the Phoenix Suns lined up a playoff push by adding Tyson Chandler and putting together a veteran bench unit.
It would be shocking for them to make wholesale changes in the middle of the year, like they did with last season’s wild trade deadline shakeup of a poorly fitting roster.
But general manager Ryan McDonough is unpredictable, and for that it’s predicted by Grantland’s Zach Lowe — in his list of 35 crazy predictions for the NBA season — that the Suns could trade a wing player this season.
P.J. Tucker is starting to feel a little extraneous, even though he gives the Suns a bulldog defensive mentality on the wing and can slide to power forward in small lineups. That skill doesn’t feel quite as essential with Mirza Teletovic and T.J. Warren around, and Warren is ready for bigger minutes at Tucker’s regular position. Archie Goodwin should play more, too, and Sonny Weems is here.
Phoenix has extra draft picks galore. Ryan McDonough is hoarding them for a bigger move, but the Suns might be able to get something meaningful by combining Tucker, one pick, and another player.
The prediction as a whole isn’t so crazy, but it would be a bit surprising to see Tucker shipped out of Phoenix.
Indeed, Tucker may not see as much time at power forward with Jon Leuer and Teletovic in the fold, and he quite likely will lose minutes while in a small forward time-share with Warren. But the small forward is looked at as a key vocal leader alongside Chandler, and his rebounding, defense and three-point shooting from the corners is well worth a $5.5 million contract for this season.
Tucker’s deal is not guaranteed for next season so perhaps Phoenix will consider trading him in a money-saving move if they don’t want to shell out $5.3 million for him to play with Warren next year.
Weems, who will make $2.8 million this year, similarly has a non-guaranteed deal for next season, and his ability to play either shooting guard or small forward could also threaten Tucker’s place. At the same time, Phoenix could also package Weems in any trade proposal should he show his value in his first year back from a four-year career in Europe.
Here, we’ve discussed Goodwin’s odd situation before. The 21-year-old guard needs playing time but it doesn’t appear that he’ll have much opportunity at either point guard or shooting guard.
A trade would open any opportunity for the Suns to take a look at what they’ve got in Goodwin. But if they think they already know, Goodwin is another player who could be part of a midseason trade.
In short, a lot of what the Suns will be thinking come trade season depends on their players’ development to that point and, of course, what is being offered in return.
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