Notes: Suns willing to trade draft picks

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Ryan McDonough and the Phoenix Suns are willing to trade one or more of their draft picks for the loaded 2014 draft, but that’s not necessarily anything unexpected. McDonough told NBA.com on Friday that the Suns would look to package a pick or two in a trade to bring star power to Phoenix.

“I think one of the things that’s important for people to realize is that we may not draft four players even if we have four picks,” McDonough told NBA.com. “Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. That’s kind of generally what we’ve wanted to do, not only with our draft-pick situation but also with the cap space that we’ve acquired.”

Many might read into this as Phoenix changing its course of action. It’s not.

When coach Jeff Hornacek was hired, he said that the Suns front office sold him on the process. The foundation was to be built, but it wasn’t as if Phoenix would continue playing with a cheap roster for this year and the next if it could help it.

“They have not put us in a bad position salary-wise and the ability to go out there and get free agents,” said the Suns coach when he was introduced. “Those guys (in the front office) have set it up pretty well.

“You have to have a foundation,” Hornacek said of the roster. “Obviously, we’re not at a championship level with this team where we can say we’re happy with this group.”

It looked as if the Suns were getting caught up in the tanking race as was everyone else, but this is where the flaw is in understanding the theory of tanking.

Think of it this way — the Suns haven’t exactly needed to tank to get what tanking gets you, and that’s high draft picks. Phoenix could have as many as four in the upcoming draft, and that in itself already puts the Suns where tanking would have gotten them (Editor’s note: That’s by packaging them to get a higher pick). Now that they’re on a four-game winning streak after beating the Sacramento Kings 116-107 on Saturday, the Suns are 13-9 and frighteningly looking like a playoff contender. Should that be a worry?

The Suns have several ways to look ahead. They could ride this current squad out, keep whatever draft picks they have, and continue building young players into, ideally, stars. Phoenix could also package the draft picks into higher draft picks. And as McDonough told NBA.com, they could use the draft picks to get a ready-made player.

That’s not changing the plan.

With the Boston Celtics, McDonough went through this same process and in a few stunning moves over the course of a few days turned a lottery team into a title contender by acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Times and a different CBA makes it little different, but it’s the same concept. When opporturnity presents itself, take a stab. And never, ever rule out an option.

The asset acquisition and freeing up of cap space puts Phoenix in position to make such a move today. It’s not easy to comprehend who and what the Suns would do in a trade, but that’s the point.

Rule nothing out.

Plumlee sparks third-quarter run

The volatile DeMarcus Cousins traditionally has put a beating on the Phoenix Suns, but in their 116-107 win on Friday against the Sacramento Kings, the tables turned. Cousins was the one getting frustrated, earning a technical after jawing with the Suns bench.

Indirectly, Cousins had ticked off himself. Miles Plumlee had had enough of his opponent by the third quarter, and he made Cousins pay.

“Shoot, the the way things were going, things were getting under my skin, too,” Plumlee said. “You got to retaliate somehow.”

“In the first half, sometimes I’m a little too uptight and trying to overthink the game,” he added. “I”m trying to get away from that.”

Plumlee’s block off the backboard on Cousins’ fastbreak layup sparked a 14-0 run that helped Phoenix take the lead for good. He finished with four steals, three blocks, 12 points and nine boards, but in the second half took it to another level. On Friday, Hornacek had the Suns front Cousins, something they hadn’t done in this year’s two previous meetings.

Plumlee twice more rejected Sacramento’s best player. And once Cousins was frustrated, Plumlee began sneaking behind his defender off the ball to catch two alley-oops.

Maybe Cousins could blame himself. He was grabbing Plumlee throughout, the Suns center said, and it was a hook leading to Cousins’ steal and the ensuing Plumlee block that was the final straw.

“Personally, I thought that was happening a lot,” Plumlee said. “My jersey was ripped by the end of the game. But it’s part of the game, you’ve got to play through it.”

Quotable

Hornacek on the Morris twins playing off one another: “It was pretty obvious once we started in practice a lot of times you could see that they were looking for each other. In the beginning it wasn’t a good thing, because that’s all they did. The other three guys on the court were non-existent. They finally got out of that and they’re just playing basketball.”

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