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ESPN Insider: Suns making ‘massive’ trade with Knicks and Cavs ‘makes sense’

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving drives to the basket as Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) and DeMar DeRozan (10) defend during second half Eastern Conference final playoff basketball action in Toronto on Monday, May 23, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

With the NBA draft just over a week away, ESPN’s Chad Ford explained via ESPN Insider that it would ‘make sense’ for the Suns to make a blockbuster three-team trade with the Cavaliers and Knicks.

The deal was the first of “Five game-changing NBA draft trades” that Ford listed, and it involves the Suns dealing a wealth of players and draft picks in exchange for stars and supporting players.

The massive three-teamer

Knicks send: Carmelo Anthony and Robin Lopez to Cleveland
Cavaliers send: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Mo Williams and Sasha Kaun to Phoenix
Suns send: Eric Bledsoe to Cleveland; Brandon Knight, Alex Len, P.J. Tucker, Archie Goodwin and the Nos. 4 and 13 picks to New York

(…)

Why the Suns do it: Owner Robert Sarver has been eager to avoid a total rebuild in Phoenix. This would give him a chance to make a big splash right now. Irving has a higher ceiling than Bledsoe and is two years younger. Love would fill a huge gap at the 4.

Most importantly, it also allows the Suns to do this while still hanging on to Devin Booker, whom they are very high on. With Knight departing in this trade, Booker could step into the starting lineup for Phoenix right away.

The Suns just completed a 23-59 season, posting the second-worst record in the NBA. Still, the aforementioned Booker provided a bright spot for the struggling team, averaging 13.8 points per game as a rookie.

Bledsoe (20.4 PPG) and Knight (19.6 PPG) were the first and second leading scorers on the Suns ahead of Booker, but dealing the pair of guards for the stars Ford listed could indeed be a sensible move.

Irving, a point guard, averaged 19.6 PPG this past season with Cleveland, second on the team behind LeBron James. At 23 years old, the Duke alum and All-Star is signed through the 2019-2020 season. The hypothetical trades of Goodwin and Bledsoe – plus the possible loss of Ronnie Price, who is now a free agent – would leave Irving, Booker, Williams and John Jenkins as the Suns’ guards.

At center, the Suns would lose 22-year-old former first-round pick Alex Len, who led the team in both offensive and defensive rebounds, as well as blocks and personal fouls. Kaun, a 31-year-old Russian with just one year of experience in the NBA, averaged one total rebound per game in 25 contests with the Cavs this past season. The Suns would still have Tyson Chandler.

With a small forward in Tucker out the door, Love, a power forward, could provide size, experience and versatility.  In eight seasons, Love has averaged 11.5 rebounds per game and has never pulled down fewer than nine boards per game in a season. With at least 16 points per game in six of his eight NBA seasons, Love has a career 18.3 points per game. Ford notes that Love has been an ‘awkward’ fit in Cleveland.

Finally, the loss of two first round picks to the Knicks could mean the Suns miss out on Jaylen Brown, Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss at No. 4.


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