Seven Days of Suns Trade-mas: The all-in move for Boogie
Welcome to the seven days of Suns’ Trade-mas. With the Suns near the bottom of the Western Conference and a roster brewing with trade potential and questionable fits, Empire of the Suns brings you a trade scenario every day for a new year of Suns basketball.
Reminder: This is an exercise to understand the cost and returns of various deals. This time, it’s about the cost of landing a disgruntled superstar. This one probably won’t happen, especially with Cousins reportedly set to sign an extension in Sacramento.
First, our prior ideas:
• The deal to blow it all up
• Reuniting P.J. Tucker and Jeff Hornacek
• Trading Chandler, paving the way for Len
• The deal to get Brandon Knight to a rumored destination
• Reshaping the guard rotation
• Acquiring the disgruntled, promising big man
Eric Bledsoe, T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, 2017 unprotected first-round pick, 2019 unprotected first-round pick
There is absolutely no reason for the Suns to trade for DeMarcus Cousins or any logical way they could offer enough to outbid teams like the Celtics, Nuggets and Lakers, but here’s a suggestion of a way it could possibly get done.
Cousins is a franchise player right now. He’s the best big man in basketball and when he’s fully locked in, he’s a frightening two-way leviathan like he showed in his brief time playing under Mike Malone. That was before Malone got fired when Cousins got sick for two weeks, because, you know, reasons.
Even if one were to overlook Cousins’ potential as a defender in a more ideal situation, he continues to be a monster offensively. Cousins and Anthony Davis are the only two players to average at least 24 points and 10 rebounds per game in the last two seasons, and Cousins is currently averaging a career-high 28 points per game.
The price for a player like that, even on a deal that expires in 2018, is very large.
Bledsoe solves the Kings’ longstanding point guard issue and keeps them from completely bottoming out. As explained in aforementioned posts, Bledsoe is a very good basketball player the Kings would love to have and might be the best overall player a team is willing to depart with for Cousins.
Warren is more of the same, turning himself from a player hyped up by local fans to getting more national recognition as a legitimate bucket-getter after his tremendous start to the season.
The 23-year-old’s mix of efficiency and extending range combined with his ability to create his own offense put him in rare company. Last year, Warren averaged 11 points per game shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three on 1.5 attempts per game and played 22.8 minutes a game. He is only one of four perimeter players in the last 30 years to average at least 10 points per game, shoot at least 50 percent from the field and take at least one three-point shot a game.
He’s unique, and although his shooting numbers are down this year after a head injury sidelined him for nearly a month, he would instantly become a threat to average 20 points per game as Sacramento’s primary scorer. Those guys don’t come around every year.
Chriss’ growth, as seen by his expected terrible numbers as a starter, is going to take a while, but every game or two he makes a play that could shock the casual NBA viewer. His far-increased motor from college to the pros gives him a more comfortable floor as a prospect, meaning if his perimeter talents don’t expand he can still be a bouncy, tough rebounder and finisher who can make the right pass.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The Suns would have to give up two, perhaps even three, very valuable draft picks. This year’s pick surely stays in the top-10 regardless of when Cousins joins the team and who knows what the Suns will look like in 2019. That’s the price to get a superstar, though, and it’s around this size, even in a trade with Sacramento.
Despite the massive cost to land Cousins, the Suns would still have Leandro Barbosa, Dragan Bender, Tyler Ulis and the center duo of Tyson Chandler and Alex Len off the bench for a team switching to win-now mode.
The fit for Cousins with the Suns doesn’t make much sense. A theoretical starting five of Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, P.J. Tucker, Jared Dudley and DeMarcus Cousins with two extra centers on the bench does not add up to a playoff team. There would have to be more moves to be made and that’s a troubling set of words to say in order to add logic to a trade.
The Suns were searching for the next disgruntled superstar available on the trade market ever since general manager Ryan McDonough set foot in the Valley, but at least in the case of Cousins, it appears that time has passed.