Pro: Why the Suns should trade Channing Frye


The Phoenix Suns spent the offseason slashing veterans from their roster every time they found a playoff contender with a need for such a player.

Jared Dudley, Luis Scola, Caron Butler and Marcin Gortat all changed addresses once the Suns were able to find the right asset mix to acquire in return. That left a roster with Channing Frye as the only player in his 30s aside from injured big man Emeka Okafor.

Frye likely was never considered for trade purposes this summer because we didn’t even know if he would return to the team this year after missing all of last season with an enlarged heart. There seemed to be a better chance of Frye’s contract coming off the Suns’ books due to a medical retirement than through a trade.

However, not only has Frye returned but he hasn’t looked like a player who could not do any strenuous physical activity for the better part of the last year. In 26.7 minutes per game, Frye is averaging 10.4 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting nearly 40 percent from the three-point line, numbers that are very similar to his career marks. Frye is an excellent stretch big who will grab a few rebounds and play decent post defense, the kind of big man most contenders could use.

Frye is making $6.4 million this year and will take home $6.8 million next season assuming he exercises his player option, making him the second-highest paid player on the Suns behind Goran Dragic aside from Okafor’s massive expiring deal. That contract isn’t exorbitant but it’s hefty nonetheless as mid-level type deals are often the worst contracts in basketball.

The Suns’ plan this offseason was clear: trade every possible useful veteran for draft picks and young players with upside. I see no reason why that plan should be altered just because the Suns have overachieved thus far. After all, as well as they’ve played, they wouldn’t even be a playoff team if the postseason started today while all but two teams in the West are within two games of No. 9 Phoenix. According to Kevin Pelton, earlier in the week ESPN’s Playoff Odds only saw the Suns reach the playoffs once in 1,000 tries due to the strength of the conference. In addition, along with the Clippers, the Suns have both played more games against sub-.500 teams (12) than any other squad in the West and Phoenix’s 4-4 mark against winning teams doesn’t seem sustainable.

Therefore, if the Suns have an opportunity to acquire a young asset of some sort or even future flexibility, they should not hesitate to trade Frye. His strong play should be applauded because this wasn’t even a conversation the team needed to have before the season. Now it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think a contender could view Frye as a missing piece on their roster.

Remember, the Suns are in a very advantageous trading position sitting about $5.7 million under the salary cap. They could rid themselves of Frye’s final year by taking on an expiring contract for bigger money from a team desperate to cut 2013-14 dollars. They could use Frye as part of a package for a big-money quality player that could become available. They could also offer Frye and 2013-14 cap relief for something like another first-rounder if just Frye is not enough. It’s tough to gauge Frye’s trade value, but it’s easy to see the Suns have many ways they could execute such a deal with how flexible their 2013-14 cap position is.

I’ve long viewed Frye as an underrated contributor to success on the basketball court, and that’s no exception this year. I wrote a few years ago about how the Suns were much better not only when Nash played but when Frye was on the court and have questioned how much his loss was felt in last year’s offensive ineptitude amid all the other more highly-publicized personnel losses. According to NBA Stats, this year has been more of the same as the Suns have scored 110.3 points per 100 possessions with Frye and 97.7 without him, which is roughly the range between Boston’s No. 25 offense and Portland’s top offense. Their true shooting percentage increases from 52.3 percent to 57.9 percent as well with the floor-spacing big on the court.

If the Suns want to win as many games as possible this season, keeping Frye is the way to go. Beyond what he brings on the court, he provides a quality veteran presence on a young Phoenix roster and he’s as nice an NBA player as you will find in any locker room. However, the Suns will likely have the cap space to acquire the kind of solidifying veteran their locker room might need once their core is set.

For now, asset acquisition should remain the name of the game, and Frye’s play this year could make him useful trade bait either by himself or in a package. The Suns should not dump his salary just to clear the books, but if they can receive an asset that could improve their future for Frye while ridding themselves of his 2014-15 salary commitment, they should continue implementing the plan that was executed so well this summer.

Tags: Channing Frye

  • foreveris2long

    Good article Mike.If there is an attractive deal out there, absolutely I think the Suns should pull the trigger as Frye is not a vital part of the future.

  • Animan

    I don’t think we should trade Frye at all because then it will lose appeal with the fans. He is a favorite and has been since the good old Steve Nash era, I do not feel we should trade him, but that is just my personal opinion. We have enough assets as is for now

  • Cam

    I agree with forever. If there is a good opportunity to get a good piece for the future, be it a player or a pick, the Suns should pull the trigger. Go Suns.

  • Sunsn7

    Pay no attention to Animan!

    Just Win Baby!…the Lottery that is!

  • http://none Go Phx

    Frye is a fan favorite and a solid player and should not be traded just to be traded. That being said, if the right deal is out there, you have to do it. He’s a very tradeable piece that teams want and if we do make any trades, it’s a very high probability that he’ll be involved.

  • Tiler

    Suns trade: Frye to Houston and 1st round Pacers pick
    Suns Get: Jeff Green from Boston

    Houston trades: Asik to Boston
    Houston get: Fry and Suns 1st Round Pacers pick

    Boston Trade: Jeff Green to Suns
    Boston get: Omer Asik from Houston

    Houston gets there TRUE stretch 4 and draft pick, Suns get a major upgrade at the 3 while becoming more athletic/faster and better defensively, Boston gets a TRUE Center that plays Defense and rebounds.
    Money works out for all teams.

  • SHAZAM

    i don’t think boston wants a 26 year old center at this point

  • Tiler
  • KayGee19

    Frye is a fan favorite for the fans that live in phoenix, not a favorite for us fans who are not from Phoenix! Suns have one green too many, they don’t need Jeff Green….he’s not worth a loss of any draft pick in 2014! Suns should try to get Dion Waiters & send that 2014 pacer pick along with Frye or Tucker or better yet both! Or just trade Frye for expiring contracts & go for Kevin Love & send wolves that 2014 pick! Suns fans would be happy with either of those additions right!!

  • http://none Go Phx

    Are you a Cleveland troll? lol We have no interest in Waiters. We are set at guard and need to find time for Goodwin. We do not need a malcontent 40% shooter and Goodwin will do better than that. TWolves aren’t trading Love. And finally, Frye is a favorite of all smart Suns fans, not just ones from Phoenix. I certainly am not from Phoenix. Never even been.

  • Eric

    Frye is useless and I would welcome any way to get him out of town. No defense and no rebounding he was a great story but we need physicality inside not a stretch 4.

  • Indigo Sun

    Smovas alter ego Go Phx is working OT haha

  • Roger

    I’ve said this before. Let’s wait until the All-star break to see how Suns are doing. In the meantime, Frye will get his legs and wind back to become an even better asset for trade to a contending team. But what if the Suns are doing well at the break and have a shot at making the playoffs?

  • shooter flatch

    Youth movement, shmooth movement. Technically, Channing’s 30, but he didn’t play last year, so he’s really 29 in NBA years. He’s not yet old enough for a Logan’s Run extermination trade, so pipe down for at least another year, Frye haters! :D

  • Scott

    I like Frye, but any player can be traded if the right trade is there.

    I don’t think the Suns are under as much pressure to trade Frye as they were to trade Gortat. If they don’t trade Frye this year, they can try again next year.

    Ideally, Frye would go to a team that is a contender, that needs him, and that sees him in their future. I could see him playing either in Houston or OKC (both places where he would fit), or possibly in NYC if they completely reboot their team.

    If he went back to Portland, his home away from home, my guess is he’d be an expensive backup, and insurance against injury with Aldridge. If Frye went to Portland, I guess it might be in trade for Tom Rob, Victor Claver, and a pick …? I could see Portland maybe going for this if they decide they need a veteran to solidify their rotations for a championship push.

  • Al

    Things still aren’t looking that good for the Wolves. I thought that they would be dominating this year and have like a 14-6 record in their first 20 games. They are still the third worst team in the west conference. Wolves should have improved with a legit SG(Kevin Martin) and good SF defender (Brewer). It seems there aren’t enough shots to go around for Pekovic and Love in the low post. Kevin Martin appears to be having a good scoring season.
    Phoenix may still have a chance to trade for Love by the February trade deadline. It all depends on where the Wolves are in the standings in 2 months. Frye and picks would be great for Love, but I bet Wolves will want the Morris twins.

  • http://COX SOUTHPHILLY

    I AGREE WITH TRADING FOR ASSETS AND BECOMING EVEN YOUNGER.BUT KEEP IN MIND WE ALREADY HAVE POSSIBLY FOUR PICKS NEXT YEAR AND IST YEAR PLAYERS ARE GAURANTEED CONTRACTS. WE NEED THAT DOMINANT PLAYER(LIKE SIR CHARLES WAS)MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE AT THIS POINT.

  • Solarion

    Yes. Trade and get younger, preferably improve their draft position. That should be the mantra this year.

  • Solarion
  • Foreveris2long

    Roger, IMO that is a great question. Essentially what do the Suns do if playoffs are reasonably foreseeable this season? For the two cents I have in my bank account, I think assets should trump playoffs. If trading Frye or anyone else will eliminate a playoff run but in the foreseeable future (next two seasons) the returning asset should improve us more, I am going with the asset. Trading Frye, Green,Dragic or Bledsoe (some prefer trading him instead of Dragic), could dampen any playoff spirit in the Phoenix air. Good thought provoking inquiry.

  • Solarion

    I don’t think they trade Dragic, Len (for obvious reasons), or Goodwin. Unless of course we get a trade we can’t refuse. I think Dragic is a better PG then Bledsoe, and we still don’t have any guarantees that Bledsoe is even going to stay?!?!?!

  • Bill Danforth

    Rockets are very happy with their forward rotation of Jones, Parsons, Casspi and Garcia. They would have preferred keeping Asik as insurance for Howard but he is unhappy at being a back-up again.

    The Rockets are seeking a similar player, a defensive anchor and rebounder to run with the 2nd unit.

    That is not Channing Frye. Starting PF Terrence Jones compliments Howard very well and Frye has ZERO chance of taking his spot. He has ZERO chance of taking Jones’s back-up, Omri Casspi’s spot.

    Green has ZERO chance of going to Houston.

    There are very few teams that have a need for Channing Frye. Terrance Jones enables the Rockets to match up with Aldridge, Z-Bo, Griffin, & Love out West and West and James from the East.

    Parsons. Casspi and Garcia all shoot the three-ball for Houston leaving Jones as their only legitimate true “4″ and Howard likes having the banger Jones help him in the post while staying out of his way. Howard makes it easy for Jones who is shooting 51% FG, while blocking 1.5 shots and grabbing 7 boards with 10 points on the deep Rockets.

    Besides a far easier trade and more beneficial one for the Rockets would be to send him to N.O for Ryan Anderson who is a better stretch four than Frye. N.O. could use a center like Asik to pair with Anthony Davis.

    Jeff Green is Boston’s best player and in the weak East he is leading them to “fools gold”, as they will not get out of the 2nd rd. BUT if the Rockets want Green they could send Asik straight to Boston for him. Why would they rather have Channing Frye than Green?

    McMiracle will truly earn his moniker if he could dump Frye on some team but the current contenders are going old school pairing a true center with a PF with one of them being an All-Star. Frye doesn’t improve any of those teams.

  • Bill Danforth

    I just read the funniest thing on the previous thread! Houston would be undefeated if they had Frye! That would mean he would have had to been a Rocket from day one and he wasn’t as McHale tried to make the Asik/Howard pairing work and the Suns weren’t even sure if Frye could play again.

    Rockets really took off AFTER they moved Asik to the bench and inserted Terrence Jones, a natural PF into the starting line-up next to Howard. That made their bench stronger as Asik is easily the best back-up center in the league.

  • Foreveris2long

    Solarion, While I will not try to convince you which point guard the Suns would trade if they trade either one, Bledsoe will be a restricted free agent next summer. therefore we do have a guarantee he will stay in Phoenix if the Suns match a contract offer he receives from another team. It is not Bledsoe’s call.

  • Al

    Bledsoe could pull a Nick Young of 3 seasons ago with the Wizards. Young didn’t like the offers that the Wizards made and no one bid for him. Other teams did not want him as a cap hold and didn’t thought his asking price was too high. Young signed his qualifying offer and became a free agent at end of season. He’s been a journey man ever since.

  • Luka

    I’d be surprised if there’s a trade market for Frye. He’s sort of stuck here for the moment.

    The Suns should never have overpaid to keep Frye here. We could have used a real center against the Lakers back in 2010, and Frye’s incessant bricking should never have been rewarded.

    It wouldn’t have been so bad if management had just ponied up the money for a PF. But it’s grown beyond frustrating having Frye be the starting PF.

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  • Bill Danforth

    Well, THAT’S odd.

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