Con: Why the Suns shouldn’t trade Channing Frye

Since the moment he stepped foot in Phoenix, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has focused on two areas when it comes to personnel: asset acquisition and cap flexibility.

As Michael Schwartz thoughtfully pointed out in his article on Sunday that focus shouldn’t change. The Suns are off to a surprising 11-9 start but the goal isn’t to be a middling .500 team in the Western Conference for years to come, it’s to build a roster that can compete for championships three to five years down the line.

And as McDonough has illustrated, the most methodical way to achieve that is by pawning off veterans to contending teams (Clippers and Pacers) and/or teams that would like to contend (Bucks and Wizards) in exchange for future assets. It’s why every veteran piece, save for P.J. Tucker and Channing Frye, was shipped out over the summer.

In the case of Frye, I’m not suggesting that McDonough’s vision should change. I’m well aware he’s a Valley product and a fan favorite. With that said, sentiment and popularity shouldn’t factor into any decision. If a team is willing to offer a first-round pick to acquire his services or the Suns can package him in a deal for a player that would seemingly be a better long-term fit, by all means McDonough should pull the trigger. My point is simply this: if trade offers come for Frye in the coming months, at what cost do the Suns simply part ways? Would they do it for a second-round pick? Would they do it for an expiring contract or a team willing to eat the rest of the seven-year veteran’s contract?

Schwartz pointed out that if Frye exercises his player option, the former Arizona standout will be the second-highest paid player on the Suns next season at $6.8 million. Even though that’s a mid-level contract, it does seem like quite a bit for a stretch-four who is averaging 10.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in less than 27 minutes of action.

But I’d argue that Frye’s value can’t simply be measured in just numbers.

On one hand, while he’s not the league’s greatest front court defender, he’s willing and able to go pound-for-pound on the interior with bigger, stronger fours. Given that the team’s No. 5 overall pick has spent more time in street clothes than in uniform, that’s an important asset to have. Not to mention, Miles Plumlee is still navigating his way around the paint at the defensive end, as well.

On the other hand, Frye offers a veteran presence in a locker room that was primarily born during either the George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton administration. Maybe that’s overvalued in today’s NBA, but the idea of having a roster in two years full of eight or nine former first-round picks paired with some combination that features Dragic/Bledsoe/Plumlee/Morris Twins is a scary proposition.

There’s no doubt that this organization needs more young talent and hopefully a budding superstar to fall in its lap, but it also needs to place some value on leadership and on holding onto a glue guy. Maybe down the line the Suns deem that to be P.J. Tucker or one of the Morris twins (albeit they’re both 24) or a player from another franchise, but I’d like to think they already have that guy on their roster in Frye.

To win a championship or at least contend for one, teams need that guy. And sometimes they need multiple.

Sam Presti seems to be the model for general managers when it comes to building their rosters from the ground up, seeing as he took the Oklahoma City Thunder from a 23-win team to a playoff team to a Western Conference champion to a team that now annually is considered one of the favorites to win the title.

While he was the man who drafted Kevin Durant, James Harden, Jeff Green, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, he was also the man who held on to Nick Collison and acquired Nazr Mohammed during the 2010-11 season.

Why? Because even with a roster full of young talent, there’s something to be said for having a veteran or two who can command the locker room or act as a coach on the floor.

As mentioned above, Schwartz and I are absolutely in complete agreement that the goal of asset acquisition should not stop. It’s quite amazing what McDonough has been able to do in seven short months. However after gutting the roster of its primary veterans, the first-year general manager has to ask himself: Does he want a roster entirely of fresh-faced 20-somethings or does he see value in keeping Frye as part of the future? And if it’s the former, what return would he expect in a deal for the Suns starting power forward? Cap relief? A pick? A player?

Those questions might be answered soon enough, but for now it’s definitely something to ponder.

  • Foreveris2long

    Ok Dave I get you. You agree with Schwartz if Frye goes for a 1st round pick or young promising talent. However your limitation if I understand you correctly is, you would rather hold onto him instead of trading him for a 2nd round pick. I fully agree with that limitation. IMO Frye has more value in and out of the locker room than a 2nd round pick especially since we are not over the cap and as you pointed out, Len continues to be missing in action.

    On another note Sacramento apparently feels it is a playoff caliber team with the addition of Gay because the move will drastically cut the minutes of McLemore. As Gay IMO did not make Toronto substantially better I question if he is going to propel the Kings into playoff relevancy in the tough West. Maybe they get the 8th seed and are bounced in the 1st round. If I were them I would rather continue taking my lumps for 1 more season as the upcoming lottery can be very rewarding. McLemore can learn from Gay which helps but the cost of that tuition could be a nice lottery pick.

    I love McD’s patience and foresight, do not make a move to secure the bottom of the playoffs (see Blanks for more on that issue). In fact I think if he makes a move it will likely improve the minutes for his young talent like Goodwin.

  • Luka

    The Suns are stuck with Frye. Frye should never have been given a lengthy contract after how horribly he played against LA in the playoffs back in 2010. He’s only going to be useful as an expiring contract this offseason.

  • http://none Go Phx

    It’s pretty simple with Frye. If a good offer comes in that makes us better, trade him. A 2nd rounder is not close to enough. A lot first is not enough. Taking a bad contract isn’t going to work because we don’t have any. We need to get talent in return or a top 15 pick. Otherwise, he has more value to us.

    I am not quite sure what the Kings are doing, but they have absolutely no shot to sneak into the playoffs this year. West is way too good and Gay sucks anyway.

  • http://none Go Phx

    correction — * low first is not enough, lol

  • EBJM

    Two articles about Frye? Sorry but the point is the same like Forever said.

    The Kings trade is far more interesting. Forever
    I don’t know why you think McElmore’s minutes will get cut. He is the King’s starting SG and Gay is a SF.

    I think the Kings will once again push Jason Thompson back to the bench and pair D-Will and Gay up front.

    The Raptors made off like bandits as Gay just wasn’t helping them at all. They pick up Greivis Vasquez who struggled with the hapless Kings. His assists dropped from 9 per game to a tad bit over 5 with the Kings. That means the Kings are going with Isaiah Thomas at PG.

    Back-up PF Patrick Patterson was sharing the PF duties with Thompson and their stats were almost identical. He now competes with underachieving Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough.

    John Salmons backs Landry Fields or even starts and takes minutes from another under-achiever, Austin Daye.

    It is the 2nd time Gay has been a salary dump. The Grizzlies did the same thing and sure could use his scoring at SF over Tayshaun Prince.

    So now the Kings have three scorers up front, good luck to Thomas in distributing the ball. Conversely Vasquez will get minutes in Toronto as Lowery’s back-up Augustin isn’t even in the rotation.

    So the Kings basically swapped Gay for Tyreke Evans and the Grizzlies got Ed Davis and Tayshaun Prince for Gay.

    I think talking about the Celtics who I believe are in a similar trajectory as the Suns. They dumped all their old veterans and got some very usable parts from the Nets. They have the Nets 1st rd pick in ’14, ’16, & ’18 besides their own. They also have the Clippers 1st rd in ’15.

    Ironically, the kid playing the point for them and who just posted 23/7 against the Knicks while holding Raymond Felton to ZERO, Jordon Crawford is the Net’s 1st rd pick of ’10.

    They reacquired their own 1st rd pick MarShon Brooks who made the All-Rookie 2nd team while with the Nets. They are in 4th place in the East with a losing record. Veterans Bass and Green are leading the team with Humphries providing a lift off the bench.

    What are they suppose to do? The East sucks and they can’t dump their only star in Green or can they? You can only draft so many players and they will get at least two 1st rd picks in the next three drafts.

  • Luka

    Just two rudderless teams making trades. The Cousins, Gay duo could be pretty solid given time.

  • Kendall Marshall

    Ya’ll gonna be sorry you traded me. Just wait. K-butter doesn’t get dissed like that. My dad will have me on another NBA team within the year.

  • EBJM

    Hey Kendall, shouldn’t you be on a bus heading to Idaho? Alando Tucker tore up the D-League also and where did he end up? Russia and now Bulgaria!

    Bulgaria, home to former Sun Georgi Glouchkov!

    Give Georgi a call, he can hook you with Alando on PBC Lukoil Academic in Bulgaria and all three of you can talk about wasted opportunities!

  • EBJM

    Wow, Masai Ujiri is going all in up in Toronto. Mark Stein has reported that he is looking to dump Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields! Meaning former Kings Vasquez and Salmons move right into the starting line-up.

    Now that is how you tank a season my friends! Which isn’t that hard out West but has become quite a problem out East. Go Wizards! One of the few Eastern teams trying to win!

  • EBJM

    Just food for thought, does anybody swap Frye for Fields? It can be done straight up and I believe some of you liked Fields back on draft day.

  • Justafan

    Even when the Suns do the right thing (as in what transpired over the offseason) they still can’t catch a break. They draft a broken big man, move all of their veterans except Frye, who nobody knew if he could still play, and Dragic and after 20 games, sit just a 1/2 game out of the eighth seed.

    This is painful. Why does it seem like the Suns are cursed?

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, you may be right in the Kings moving Williams to play the 4 along side of Gay at the 3 spot but I will tell you since acquiring Williams he played solely at the three. In two of his first three games which I saw significant minutes of, he played pretty good causing the announcer to claim his best position will be the three. So yep I will agree with ya if they move Williams to the 4 it will not cheat McLemore of time. I have seen Gay like Kobe and other wings, play the two and three spot so who knows. Anyway good dialogue as usual.

  • foreveris2long

    Derrick Williams has 25 points tonight playing the 3 and it is only the 3rd quarter. I have no idea why the Kings wanted Gay’s huge contract especially since he has the option to extend the contract another season.

  • http://none Go Phx

    Landry Fields???? Is that a serious question?

  • Chad

    Lucky Landry Fields made the right decision by getting paid when he had the chance. That’s all ill say about him. I thought the whole thing about Williams was that he needed to play the three to be successful in the NBA because he was undersized at the four. Stupid trade by the Kings. I feel sorry for Patrick Patterson, in the games I’ve seen he seems like a solid role player who could get time on a good team but he’s been flicked to bad teams twice in the last year.

  • JK

    The Suns won’t be able to move Frye for anything useful unless some injuries occur causing a team to be in need of his floor spacing. Unless we can manage to create a trade scenario for him that works heavily in our favor, Frye should not be moved because every rebuilding team needs a veteran presence in the locker room. Personally, I love having him on the team because he is one of the last pieces left from the old Suns teams that used to dominate the league.

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  • east coast

    If I were the Suns f.o., I’d trade Frye for any first rounder, Miami’s included. Combining the Pacers pick with another in the high 20s to get another in the teens, the Suns could have 3 picks in the middle of the first round, giving them ample assets to trade up for a top pick or Harden-like star-in-waiting. Btw, who is Nazi Mohammed? :-D

  • john

    I disagree with those saying there isn’t a strong market for Frye. He’s an average to above-average big with a good motor and a great shot. He would be a dream come true for certain contending teams. If the Suns are shopping him, I have very little doubt they could get a first-rounder out of him.

  • chris

    With the picks we have we could get Gordon from U of A who would be a good 4 in this line up he plays defense rebounds and has a good range jumpshot

  • Scott

    Suns fans have a history of thinking there is no market for Suns players.

    McD doesn’t need a whole bunch of teams with interest. He just needs one team that’s willing to make an appropriate deal.

    Prior to the Clippers trade this summer, did anyone think the Suns were going to get Bledsoe, Ish, and Kravtsov for Dudley and a 2nd round pick?

    Did anyone think the Suns would get a starting center, a team leading 3 pt shooter, AND a first round pick for Scola?

    Bottom line: don’t expect Frye to be traded unless McD can get a good deal, which would be something resembling the above.

  • Hesam

    Frye used to be Suns’ rock (as in rock in front blocking you!) and continues to be one. On the positive side he can shoots 3s, on the negative side he’s too slow and too short to grab 15 rebounds or to defend the paint as say Haddadi could’ve done. Suns needs an aggressive, defensive-minded true center preferably over 7’1″ to compete with the other 7′ centers when it comes to grabbing that final life and death rebound.

  • George

    Good article. Trade for any 1st round. Being the 8th team in this year’s play-offs is not promising except to teach the young players the value of hard work and team play.

  • Eric

    Chris, I’d rather have a Mitch McGary type. A 4 that can get tons of rebounds like Love. Also, can pass the ball extremely well and handle the ball he can lead fast breaks if the situation provides. Plus he give 100% every minute on the floor. He also has a decent mid range jumper and cand finish at the rim. Gordan is a going to go to high in the draft for the Suns we need to start exploring players that will be around 12-18 cause thats where the suns picks will be.

  • NOitall

    I would trade Len and Frye to Houston and pick up Omer Asik.

    Frye would be a perfect complement to Howard, spreading the floor for him. Len is worthless to us [IMO], but throwing him to Houston clears his cap number to make absorbing Asik better, plus Houston would probably think Len will ultimately develop and take over for Howard when Howard bolts Houston [which he will do].

    Adding Asik to this team gives us a solid young rebounding and defensive presence [and he is better than Gortat]. He is struggling this year because he is playing alongside Howard and is really not a great fit for houston. This which might help lower his value enough to steal him.

    I would add that the intention would be to extend Asik as well.