It’s just about that time. Under new general manager Ryan McDonough, the Suns have made two compelling draft picks and two trades that will result, or have already, in fine returns.
Jared Dudley and a second-round pick that was acquired in the Sebastian Telfair-Hamed Haddadi trade netted young point guard Eric Bledsoe and veteran small forward Caron Butler. Luis Scola was officially traded Saturday to the Indiana Pacers for a 2014 lottery-protected first-rounder, 2012 pick Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green.
Phoenix is already younger, more athletic and with more assets in the back pocket.
Scola and Dudley had obvious trade value to teams like the ones they were dealt to, but it’s arguable veterans like Marcin Gortat and Shannon Brown will be harder to pawn off. In Gortat’s case, it’s a matter of dealing a player somewhere in the grey area of role player and second or third option. Where it was clear Dudley and Scola are fine bench options, Gortat’s niche is to-be-determined.
So what will the depth chart look like assuming that the roster goes relatively unchanged? Diante Garrett is unguaranteed and Alex Oriakhi has yet to be signed — technically, the Suns haven’t yet signed Alex Len either — but Phoenix already has 16 players under contract.
Obviously, the versatility of the roster makes for more complications (i.e., if Goodwin and Bledsoe are in the backcourt, I’d expect Bledsoe to play point guard). But here’s the breakdown for your eyes to analyze.
G – Goran Dragic, Archie Goodwin, Kendall Marshall, Malcolm Lee (?)
G – Eric Bledsoe, Shannon Brown, P.J. Tucker
F – Caron Butler, Marcus Morris, Gerald Green
F – Markieff Morris, Michael Beasley, Channing Frye (?)
C – Marcin Gortat, Alex Len, Miles Plumlee
Something will have to give. The season will begin with a 15-man roster so Garrett and Oriakhi excluded, the Suns will need to make a move. Options include dumping Lee, making another trade or even using the stretch provision to shed Michael Beasley sooner rather than later. McDonough told Paul Coro that Channing Frye’s health is looking good, so he might have that above question mark rescinded before the regular season begins.
Hold your horses
In all the excitement over the Suns acquiring picks for the loaded 2014 draft, we’ve got to slow our rolls a bit. Expecting three picks in 2014 might be jumping to conclusions. Odds are, two are likely but it’ll be difficult to get the third.
Last summer, the Suns shed Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick for a draft pick and Wes Johnson, who was allowed to walk. Like all these trades, the key piece was the pick.
The selection coming from the T-Wolves in 2014, however, might be a longshot.
Phoenix could see the first-round pick come its way in the 2014 draft if the T-Wolves don’t find themselves owning a top-13 pick.
Michael Schwartz broke down what is one of the most complicated trades last season, but with Memphis’ first-round pick being conveyed to Minnesota in this 2013 draft, the ability for the Suns to acquire the T-Wolves’ pick in 2014 is quite simple. The Timberwolves must make the playoffs or have the best record of all teams not to make the playoffs. There would always be a chance they fall to 14th in the lottery if they don’t have the best record of the lottery teams, but that’s a bit too much speculation for this summer.
What the Suns are betting for is a successful run by Minnesota. Certainly, it’s possible under coach Rick Adelman. Minnesota looked primed for a postseason berth last year but injuries to everyone not built like Nikola Pekovic kept them out of the conversation. Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Pekovic have a good shot at making the playoffs, but the always competitive bottom of the West could make it a testy situation.
Likely, Suns fans will be following a chase for the eighth spot up in Minnesota, just as they hoped for the Lakers to fall short in 2012-13.
It’s probably safe to say that Indiana’s pick is headed Phoenix’s way. In a top-heavy Eastern Conference, a catastrophe is unlikely to keep Indiana out of the postseason. A catastrophe is unlikely, as is. Contrast to last year’s expectations of the Suns acquiring the new-look Lakers’ pick, we know what to make of Indiana’s roster that’s really only revamped on the backend.