Suns Rumors: Should the Suns trade J-Rich?

Would trading J-Rich solve some of the Suns' short-term and long-term problems? (AP Photo/Matt York)

Would trading J-Rich solve some of the Suns' short-term and long-term problems? (AP Photo/Matt York)

Coming back from a four-game road losing streak that dropped Phoenix to 1-11 in its last 12 road games, I understand why some fans are panicking. We’re talking about a team that for the first time in all of 2010 did not blow a double-digit lead or get blown out on Monday yet still failed to beat the Memphis Grizzlies.

Something clearly isn’t working. We have yet to see if Gentry switching Robin Lopez and Leandro Barbosa into the starting lineup for Channing Frye and Jason Richardson is a permanent thing or if it will even be an effective thing at all.

Frye is averaging 4.6 points per game in his last five games, and Richardson is averaging 8.8 ppg over his last four in what has been a very hit or miss season all year long for both players really. It would be nice if Robin Lopez develops into a reliable center, but again we’re talking about Robin Lopez, and LB hasn’t really been himself all season.

I kind of think the Suns should see how Lopez/LB work with the starters for a little while if for no other reason than the fact that the rotation needs a shake-up. I assume Lopez will start on Wednesday against his twin, but it will be interesting to see how Gentry fills out his lineups from here on out. Maybe he should consult the matchups for the next few weeks at least when choosing his starting lineup until he finds something that works.

Before getting to the reason you’re reading this post I will say this: every team goes through slumps like this. OK, not every team will go through 1-11 road stretches or blow double-digit amounts of double-digit leads in just over a month.

But every team goes through peaks and valleys, even if they aren’t exactly usually 14-3 followed by 10-15 with all the aforementioned inconsistency and blown leads.

So the question remains, should the Suns make a trade, and will they?

I will answer the second question first: no, I don’t think the Suns should make a trade, and I fear if they do it will be a cost-cutting kind of deal involving Amare if this thing really bottoms out more than anything. When the Suns were doing so well it looked like a foregone conclusion that Amare would be a Sun through this season at least.

I still think that will happen, and in fact the Suns’ brass will be meeting with STAT’s agent for their first formal discussion about an extension this week. I doubt there’s any chance Amare signs an in-season extension, but I think he will seriously consider re-signing in the offseason (if he even opts out) if the Suns offer him market value (which I’m not sure they will, especially considering how this season may yet end).

I do think any Amare trade would be something of the 40 cents on the dollar variety that wouldn’t do a whole lot for this season or the future. So unless something changes in that department, I don’t plan on spending a whole lot of time discussing a potential Amare trade.

If the Suns are to make a move it would make the most sense for them to ship out Jason Richardson. The question is, will they find an amenable deal?

In a perfect world they would want a tough shooting guard who can play ‘D’ with an expiring contract. It’s more than a little sickening that I just described Raja Bell.

The biggest sticking point to trading J-Rich is the $14.4 million he’s owed next year. No team in their right mind would want to pay that for a guy averaging an inconsistent 14.9 points per game playing next to Steve Nash in Phoenix’s system, especially when that guy doesn’t exactly make a name for himself on defense to put it kindly. I ultimately think the combination of bad contracts Phoenix would need to eat and lack of talent available in such a trade will preclude such a deal.

But let’s have a bit of fun with ESPN’s Trade Machine for a minute anyway and imagine what Tracy McGrady would look like in purple and orange. Here’s my cap-satisfying proposal: Jason Richardson and Leandro Barbosa to Houston for Tracy McGrady and Chase Budinger.

Why this works

There are a number of reasons this won’t work, but let’s start off by discussing why it does.

If T-Mac is healthy (a HUGE if), he gives the Suns a potent three-star lineup of Nash-Amare-McGrady, the kind of star-studded lineup that can really compete in the West. At full strength he’s a sizable improvement over J-Rich.

You all know I love Chase, and I would love to cover him again, but that’s not why I’m proposing this deal. The Suns would need another player to fill out the roster anyway and they’d need some wing depth if they trade both of their shooting guards and then plan on relying on the creaky McGrady. As I wrote around draft time, Chase would be a great fit in this system, and Suns GM and fellow Wildcat Steve Kerr is very familiar with his game.

The biggest boon, though, would be on the books. By acquiring McGrady’s league-high $23 million expiring contract, the Suns would essentially be paying Nash and guys on their rookie contracts entering the Summer of 2010. Even if Hill and Frye re-up, the Suns would only have about $25 million worth of commitments minus Amare. That would give them roughly $30 mil to spend in free agency, which could mean Amare and a really nice piece (maybe Joe Johnson all over again?) or even a shot at the jewels of the class.

People ask me all the time about the Suns’ future and my answer is this: it doesn’t look championship bright. At best you have Amare leading the Suns’ current crop of young guns. Sounds like a nice team, but not a championship contender. Taking one step back in a move like this would give Phoenix the flexibility to re-tool for one last run under Nash while building for the future after he retires, kind of how taking one step back with the Marbury-Penny trade allowed the Suns to sign Nash.

For Houston, the benefit would be they’re getting two pretty solid shooting guards in place of a decent rookie and a guy who isn’t even playing. The Rockets may well have better options in exchange for T-Mac’s deal, but getting two guys the caliber of J-Rich and LB would certainly upgrade Houston.

Why this won’t happen

Money, money, money.

Every deal the Suns make is dictated by money; we’ve known that for years. Such a trade would require the Suns to take back $3.6 million in season salary commitments, which would be doubled when factoring in the luxury tax and likely at least a $5 mil overall charge (it’s not plain doubled because half their salaries have already been paid).

Regardless of what this would do for long-term flexibility and the ability to make the Suns a contender down the road, I bet you that very fact makes this scenario a moot point, especially since the Suns don’t have any other salaries they could legitimately just dump without losing anything on the basketball end of things.

There were discussions of a T-Mac for J-Rich and LB deal over the summer, but I’m sure this is one of the biggest reasons it ended up fizzling.

The Suns would also be taking a major risk both short term and long term. If McGrady’s knees don’t hold up or he’s a shell of his former self, the Suns just flushed another one of Nash’s late prime years down the toilet. If they subsequently come up empty during the Summer of 2010, that’s another gamble they will have lost.

There also would be a question as to how well McGrady would fit in next to Nash. Here’s a guy used to taking 20 shots a game who wasn’t happy being just another player in Houston. If McGrady dominates the ball, this trade would end up hurting the Suns more than it would help them in the short term.

Houston likely won’t be so willing to clog up its cap with a guy like Richardson next season, and with Ariza and Battier around it’s not like Richardson and LB are needed that badly in Houston. Plus, who knows what Dork Elvis’ stat gurus say about them.

It’s too bad I’m pretty sure this trade will never happen for money and other reasons, as great as it would be for Phoenix’s 2010 cap situation. That, and it would be nice to see a Phoenix Suns guard voted into the All-Star Game this year.

  • jason marcoux

    p.s. i just went and looked at his "percentage" stats for this year compared to his career and here is the result… his field goal, three point, and free throw percentages are all UP for the 2009-2010 season compared to his career.. that right there should tell "FISHFACE" gentry that jrich needs more looks… maybe thats why he got fired from the pistons??? GIVE JRICH THE DAMN BALL!!!! he should be the go to guy!!!

  • Kyle Fleeger

    I posted about this on your game review of the last game. And, posted a poll on my website. You should check it out. I had a couple of ideas. Why not go after a Shane Battier, T-Mac trade

  • jason marcoux

    maybe if steve nash and grant hill would pass a little more, jrich would get more looks??? it seems when nash, hill, stoudemire, and jrich are on the floor, there only is four instead of five players.. i think theyre worried jrich will steal their shine and in turn, are conspiring to not get him the looks he should have to be effective… he did a lot better with a lot less in other cities!!! to me its quite obvious… his percentage is up there, but his game the other night look when he got single digits…. 4 for 11 for nine points… 11 SHOTS??? your shooting guard should get more than 11 shots in a game!!!

  • Artur Mascarenhas

    I would never pull a trade for McGrady, even if he is healthy. The guy needs the ball on his hand, which will be a terrible fit for Nash, and he is so laid back that he might ruin Amare even more.

    I agree that J-Rich should be more active on your offense. If he is not going to be traded, he, Nash and Amare should split most of the team’s shots. Fill the team with a selfless perimeter defender and a rebounder (Dudley and RoLo) and you are good to go.

    Then, you will have Frye to create mismatches, LB to spread the floor, Hill to lead the team from the bench and Dragic to do whatever he does.

  • Tyler

    When Steve, Amare and Hill all shoot with better percentages why would you ever give the ball to Richardson… 4 for 11 … only 4 makes thats 36% which in the NBA is pretty poor.

  • Jason

    Those are pretty strong reasons to not trade for McGrady. I don't think Houston is legitimately shopping him, I think they are holding onto his contract to try and sign a D-Wade or Joe Johnson in the off-season.

  • Steve Lora


    Suns need a bigger center who shoots from the outside. Make LB starter 2. and JDudley a starter 3.

  • Jason

    By the way, notice I left LeBron out of the talks. That’s because Stern would never allow LeBron AND Kobe in the same conference. They’d never be able to meet in the Finals if that happened.

  • jason marcoux

    Tyler…. first of all, 36% would be a bad fg percentage yes… but i hardly think you can get a fair percentage for the season based on 11 shots in ONE game… Jrich’s percentage this season is 46% right now… so is grant hill’s… Amare is a center, so he better have a LOT higher percentage than a Shooting Guard.. why dont we look at some other shooting guards fg and 3pt percentages compared to their points per… rip hamilton-fg;38%,3pt;21% at 19pts a game… vince carter-fg=39%,3pt=30%, pts per=17… O.J. mayo-fg=46%(same as j.r.), 3pt=38%, (same as j.r) yet his points per game are 18.5??? kobe-fg=46%(familiar?) 3pt=32%(6%less than j.r.) and his ppg??? yep, 28… ray allen-fg=46%, 3pt=36%, ppg=16.5… all of these “SHOOT-ING” guards have similar or LOWER percentages than JRICH, but they all score a lot more points a game… in fact, a lot of them are similar to JRICH’s ppg before coming to phoenix…. that tells me ONE thing and ONE thing only… these guys are SHOOT-ING guards…. they all SHOOT a lot more than J.R. each game… i.e…. Get JR THE DAMN BALL… dont bench him!!!

  • KJ Loyalist

    The major flaw in all of those stats you’ve put out there is that all of the examples you’ve used are, or have been the star or a focal point of that team’s offense.

    He is not the first or second option. 1 would be Nash. 2 would be Stoudemire. When Frye is hot, he’s 3. So at best J Rich is 3 and half of the time, he’s the 4th option.

    As such, you want a guy to do more than be up and down on offense. He should also be able to play some defense, which he cannot.

    All the numbers in the world will not change those facts. You kept saying that you want Nash to PASS MORE – We’re talking about Mr. Assists Per Game here. Perhaps Nash would give him the ball more if he wouldn’t follow up so many 20 point games with 4, 8, or 9 point games.

    It’s a shame that Raja Bell isn’t still on this team.

    Also, there are talks of TMac coming to the Suns. I read that there are whispers of a detroit / phx exploration about the possibility of moving Tayshaun Prince. I’m not sure what Detroit would want in exchange, but if the core in phoenix can be maintained, I’d get the ball moving on that.

  • The Z. Man

    J-Rich did not mix with the others at LB’s Brazilian Bash.

    When he left without a word, surrounded by his gangster-looking pals, it was clear to me that this player was an outsider to others on this team. Because of his only one year tenure with the Suns, and his personal life, he very well may be the weak link in the chain of the chemistry of the team.

    We MUST stop losing on the road. Team chemistry is vital away from home.

    MUST start and also finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • tom

    LeBron to the Suns next year? If we traded J Rich and didn't re-sign Grant Hill & Lopez we might be able to pull off Lebron, Nash, Amari.

  • Paul

    I was messing with the ESPN Trade Machine and came up with a deal I really liked, but not really sure about the feasibility 9especially since I thought of it when it was assumed Blake Griffin was coming back).

    Suns Trade

    Jason Richardson

    Clippers Trade

    Marcus Camby

    Wizards Trade

    Randy Foye
    Caron Butler

    Suns Get

    Marcus Camby
    Randy Foye

    Clippers Get

    Caron Butler

    Wizards Get

    Jason Richardson

    I’m not sure Washington would go for it, especially with Richardson’s hefty price tag and a year left on his deal, but they do need a playmaker in the backcourt, now that they don’t have Arenas

    Clippers need to alleviate the log jam at the PF/C positions, plus Butler is an upgrade at SF

    Suns get a SG to replace the loss of JRich and split time with LB AND a Center who fits the Suns system and can mentor Lopez. Additionally, both contracts are expiring and come off the books at the end of the season, which is always beneficial to current management. In my mind its one of the few deals that makes both financial and basketball sense.

  • jason marcoux

    i never said nash should pass more… obviously at 11 assists per game, he doesnt have a problem giving up the ball… i do say that he should pass the ball TO JRICH more, cuz he does have a problem giving the ball to j.r…. i agree amare, and nash should be two of the primary scorers, but i think the suns would do better if those 3 were the primary scorers… jrich is a scorer and should be used as such… leave the defense up to grant hill and others.. maybe he would be better served in another teams mix??? i would love to see him in detroit… phx can have rip hamilton..

  • jason marcoux

    what exactly do you mean by “Gangster Looking” friends??? that sounds like the most left handed, racist thing ive ever heard… i happen to know… we went to the same high school… his mother is a pillar of her church in the community and her son gives a lot of money to that church and other charities… he’s a very good hearted person… to call him or his friends, gangster lookng is a horrible generalization and stereotypical… i guess that is just the state of affairs in Arizona tho…

  • DiscoKeZ

    Jason marcoux i hear what your saying. Firts of all Phx need to make the playoffs and how things are going right now it, im sorry to say this but it doesnt look good :( And we all know that Phx´s style of play doesnt work when the playoffs arrive! What Phx really need is 2-3 defensive minded starters mixed with nasty nash and Amaré. I would love to see Camby, Prince and Butler in a Phx uniform! Steve Kerr have to act NOW and make something happen for the love of god! But when we have the GM that we have nothing is going to happen, and once again we will be watching teams like Oklahoma and Memphis (yeah i said it) make a nice little run when it really matters…….In the playoffs!

  • DiscoKeZ

    Sorry for my english btw, Im from Sweden! Im like the biggest phx fan in sweden :) I have been naggin my girlfriend to death about a vacation to phx for a suns game! Right now ive got the next best thing, its gonna be legen…..wait for it…….dary ——> Nba leaugepass broadband :)

  • martinez

    jason marcoux quit being silly arizona isnt like that i understand your looking out for your friend but we have to do whats best for the franchise here in arizona wouldnt you do the same for your city?

  • asani

    I wish we could get Raja Bell back he is just a smarter two guard than Richardson and his 3 pointer was a hell of a lot more dependable than Richardson’s. I think the suns should trade Frye and Richardson and I will continue to say that because these are the guys who have not been doing anything for the longest. They have been sucking big time. Both of these guys are soft as hell and don’t want anything to do with the painted area.

  • tom

    whoops, meant not re-signing Collins instead of Lopez.

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  • jstape

    Moving Richardson to the sixth man may be good for all parties. First of all, J-Rich doesn't get enough looks becuase the Suns game is built around the pick and roll with Nash breaking to the hoop and either scoring or passing to Amare. As a starter, Richardson at best is the 3rd option on offense but by bringing him off the bench he will either be the first or second option which means a whole lot more touches.

    Lastely, the Suns real issue is on defense and it would seem they no matter where Richardson plays defense will not improve. Either a trade happens or this team falls to .500 and no playoffs. They are going to spend a lot of time playing Western Conference teams from here on out.

  • Gary B.

    This team was doing very well before LB’s injury..When he went down, so did the entire team. LB for right now, is the weak link..Put him on the bench and leave him there, until he starts playing better and more important smarter..This team should be starting, Nash, Amare, Goren, Dudley and Lopez…Then you have Nash and Amare pick and roll…Lopez and dudley to establish defense around the paint..Just look at the Bench,,,LB, Hill, Jrich, Lou, And Frye…Each mixed with Hustle, Offense and defense..Give it a try,,just might be what the Dr…ordered…

  • jason marcoux

    here’s a trade for all you J-Rich Haters… Suns get R. Brewer(sg), Kyle Korver(sg), and C.J. Miles(sf) from Utah for J-Rich… suns get 2 S.G.’s since LB is hurt… ran it through espn trade machine and its a win win….