Should Suns look into trading for Russell Westbrook?
Patience has been the theme of the Phoenix Suns’ offseason.
Even their aggressive approach to the draft was more about a long-term focus than the present.
Despite this being the right thing for general manager Ryan McDonough to do, sometimes there are reasons to pivot away from a direction, and one might have come to fruition.
If the Thunder losing Kevin Durant to the Warriors equals them looking to deal Russell Westbrook, the Suns have a decision to make.
Do they pursue one of the four-to-15 best players in the league on an expiring contract or do they continue on their current path?
Phoenix conceptually has the pieces to make a Westbrook deal happen — it’s just a question if they can top the offers from others around the NBA.
Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has traded two star-to-borderline-star level players during the offseason they were entering their final year of a contract.
The Thunder received two first-round picks, a second-round pick, Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb from the Rockets for James Harden.
The Thunder received Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illyasova and a first-round pick from the Magic for Serge Ibaka.
Theme of these deals — draft pick or picks, veteran player on expiring contract and a young players still on his rookie deal with room to grow.
The Suns can check all of the boxes.
Would a package of the Suns’ 2017 first-round pick — top 10 protected –the 2018 Heat first-round pick — top seven protected — one of Brandon Knight or Eric Bledsoe (these two aren’t expiring, but with cap raising these contracts have more value than cap space), one of Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss, and T.J. Warren be enough to get it done?
I’m not sure.
When it comes to the Suns’ perspective this idea is about risk and reward.
The gain is massive — Westbrook comes to Phoenix, loves it here and re-signs next summer on a five-year max salary contract.
The fall is massive — Westbrook comes to Phoenix, has eyes on other places, leaves, and the Suns have nothing to show for what they gave up.
It’s not too long ago that Brooklyn Nets took an exact leap like this. Jazz point guard Deron Williams was either the best or second-best point guard in the NBA along with Chris Paul. He had one year and a few months left on his contract and during the 2010-2011 season Utah shipped him to Brooklyn for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks.
Williams re-signed with the Nets, picking them over his hometown Mavericks. The deal ended up working out better for the Jazz as Williams succumbed to injuries and the Nets ownership, in conjunction with GM Billy King, made one of the most ridiculous all-in trades across NBA history.
Brooklyn is still feeling the ramifications of that deal today.
If you’re the Suns you can’t do that — making a deal for Westbrook is fine, but you can’t break down the franchise.
The deal above still leaves you with a lottery pick power forward, Devin Booker, Alex Len and one of your big money point guards. Even if it hits the worst case scenario, the Suns’ future has stalled, but it’s not a 10-year, or even five-year recovery process.
It’s unknown how realistic the possibility of getting Westbrook actually is.
History tells us Oklahoma City will do its best to deal him if they think he won’t be back. They already understandably lost Durant for nothing and I doubt they want the occurrence to happen with Westbrook.
This is at least something the Suns have to look into.
Every once in a while, it’s OK if patience runs out.