The one draft-day trade that makes sense for Phoenix

If the Suns are going to swing a deal on draft day, they should push to include Leandro Barbosa.

Leading up to the draft the Phoenix Suns certainly aren’t poised to pull off a big-time draft-day trade and land Evan Turner or John Wall. But if Phoenix is going to swing a deal, you would have to think it will center around Leandro Barbosa.

LB has gone from an electric sixth man on a relatively good contract to an overpaid, expendable bench player. Not to say that he’s regressed as a player, but the opportunities simply aren’t there anymore and he is undoubtedly the one relevant Sun that Phoenix wouldn’t mind giving up.

It would be key for the Suns to get back some young talent with a draft pick, but the biggest plus that would come from a Barbosa deal would be the added cap space. The freed-up money would allow the Suns to target a much more touted free agent if Amare Stoudemire were to take off, as the Suns would then have almost $20 million to throw at a free agent.

If the Suns could pawn off Barbosa it would be a direct sign that they are indeed serious about signing a big-time free agent if STAT isn’t in purple and orange next season. It would take them from David Lee range, to possibly Dirk Nowitzki range, that is if Amare doesn’t return.

However, dealing Barbosa is definitely a bigger challenge than one would think. LB is making $7.1 million next year, which would be very attractive for a lot of teams if it weren’t for his $7.6 million player option in 2011-12.

So obviously I’m not saying a Barbosa trade will happen, but if the Suns are hoping to make a deal, LB should be the guy to go.

But who would be willing to take on a potential $14.7 million over the next two seasons? There are some teams that could use his services and if the club is bad enough, LB might be willing to opt out of the final year of his contract in search of a better fit. So it isn’t something that’s completely out of the question.

And it would make a ton of sense for the Suns, not only financially but basketball-wise, if they are able to get a draft pick in return. This draft isn’t that top-heavy (outside of the top six or seven), so if the Suns could snag a first-round pick they would be able to get back a talented youngster with a bright future.

So although the Suns will most likely stand pat with their 46th and 60th picks, they should make a conscious effort to deal LB, not only to cut costs, but to bring back some young talent on the cheap. But then again, moving a contract like his is a lot easier said than done.

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