Notes: Suns willing to trade draft picks


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.”

  • Scott L

    Having 4 draft picks does not get the Suns where tanking would have got them, tanking would get there own pick at 1-5 where thet could most likely get a Franchise altering superstar. None of the other 3 picks they have can do that as they’re either protected through most of the lottery or Indiana’s pick.

    I don’t condone tanking but I’m also not ayes man who can convelute the facts and act like 4 mid first rounders is like a top 5 pick.

  • vtsunrise

    No need to really lose games to win in the end, as you put it, Kevin. Never let the means (tanking) get in the way of the end (WINNING!).

    Tank you very much.

  • Luka

    The Suns should try and trade Frye and a first rounder to Houston for Asik.

  • Mball

    i would do PHX 1st 2014 and LAL 1st 2015 both top 3 protected + Okafor for Horford …..or Love

    maybe Frye + Green for Asik + HOU 1st (since HOU is all about 3pt shooting and will have cap problems next year) to further accumulate assets, but PHX is obviously not tanking

    why too many picks would be a problem? They way protection works, u can always cash them in later, right?

    no idea what other players would be worth throwing any of lesser draft picks at.. afflalo?

  • SHAZAM

    wow @ scott l while reading this article i had the same thought and even cut and pasted the sentence “the Suns haven’t exactly needed to tank to get what tanking gets you, and that’s draft picks.”,to make the point that tanking isn’t about 4 picks …its about a top 5 pick..you said it better than i was going to do..other than that though this is a really good article with quotes not posted anywhere else yet.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    This is the important sentence: “Phoenix could also package the draft picks into higher draft picks.”

    And if you think they need to tank any more, then throw Dragic in with those picks to get a top-5 pick. Same thing as tanking, because they’ll need to shed one of these guys if they want to start losing.

    I just don’t see how losing a lot more could help them at this point.

  • john

    Great article, this isn’t meant to be an insult, but I kinda laughed at the title. Saying a guy like McD is willing to make a deal is like saying a racecar driver is willing to drive faster. It’s what they do. Of course McD is willing to deal. :-)

  • Scott

    Why would a team looking to get a franchise player with their top pick trade this pick for multiple lower picks that aren’t projected to be as favorable?

    Makes no sense to me.

    Trading down only makes sense if your high pick isn’t a franchise player, and in that case, it’s stupid for the team with the lower picks to trade up.

  • john

    @scott – who said anything about tradt

  • john

    *trading down? I must be missing something. You would indeed be correct in your statement, I’m just saying I never noticed any saying the Suns should trade down.

  • Sunsn7

    If the Suns miss out on an elite franchise changing player via the DRAFT next summer, then the “feel good” aura that the Suns are re-instilling among Suns fans, will take a hit..and a deflating one at that.

    Mr. McDonough, please oh PLEASE dont be a “prisoner of the moment”. The FUTURE success of the Suns is at stake. Dont give it away for a “fun n gun” run in the playoffs

  • Sunsn7

    @ Zimmerman, as much as I like Dragic, supported him when Kerr drafted him and paid his Euroleague team to release him from his contract, vehememtly opposed the Dragic for Brooks trade, and was ecstatic when the Suns brought him back to Phoenix.

    However..the Suns now have Bledsoe and I absolutely dont see these two PG’s being content playing part time pg over the long haul. I would keep Bledsoe based on his age and upside, and what Dragic would help bring back in return. It would be an agonizing decision to make, but one I would make nonetheless.

    Randle, Parker, and Wiggins are that special to justify taking that risk. Suns fans deserve no less.

  • Eric

    Horford or Randolph would be exactly what the team needs. Unless you can guarantee me Randle, McGary or Ejim I’d make the move for Horford over Randoph as Zack is too old and would not be helping much longer

  • EBJM

    The Rockets are considering Anderson Varejao and Paul Millsap thus far. Pelicans like Ryan Anderson and do not seem interested in trading him for Asik. Regardless of the rumors they want a stretch four, they want a back-up for Howard who can defend and rebound first and foremost.

    Grizzlies would love to dump Z-Bo and the $16.5 million they owe him next season. As you might recall, his replacement, Ed Davis tuned up the Suns for 21 and 12 recently.

    A possible trade that doesn’t really cost Phoenix much and might be enough to make them a top four team out West would be the Lakers Pau Gasol who is being wasted in D’Antoni’s traditional no post player SSOL.

    Phoenix could swap the expiring contract of Okafur straight up for Pau. Kupchak would more than likely want the Suns to return his 2015 1st rd pick. Suns see how it works out and if they don’t like it Pau signs somewhere else this summer.

    There is no way Phoenix is hitting the lottery this summer and so far their highest picks are the Wizards at #15 and possibly the Wolves currently at #12 and protected through #13 so maybe a #14.

    Their own pick has dropped to #23. Pacers are still at #30.

    There has been some talk of reuniting Pau with Howard by trading him for Asik. That might be difficult as the Rockets would need to add pieces to make it work BUT the Lakers desperately need another PG and the Rockets have four.Pat Beverly and Aaron Brooks have played great while Jeremy Lin was injured.

    Asik and Lin could get them Pau Gasol who has the size and game the Rockets are looking for. D’Antoni gets “Linsanity” back to run SSOL and a defensive center in Asik who doesn’t demand touches like Pau does to be effective.

  • EBJM

    Hawks are built around Horford. They are willing to send Millsap to Houston for Asik just so they could finally move Horford to the” 4″. Hawks also have Jeff Teague at PG so who are the Suns going to give the Hawks for to obtain their franchise player?

    Some of you Z-Bo lovers seem to forget that the Spurs went straight through Z-Bo and the Grizzlies on the way to the finals. He is also set to make $16.5 million next summer. He is also on the downside of his career, not worth $16.5 million especially if he can’t get you by the Spurs. What would be the point?

  • SHAZAM

    @ kevin you saying “Phoenix could also package the draft picks into higher draft picks.” is still off.. NO team is going to trade a top 5 pick this year even if dragic is included…tanking is all about going for a top 5 pick.. add that to this sentence of yours in the article “the Suns haven’t exactly needed to tank to get what tanking gets you, and that’s draft picks.” I’m just confused why you would throw up a dated story with dated quotes attached to a misunderstanding of what tanking is…maybe i have it wrong…maybe tanking doesn’t mean going for a top 5 pick by losing a ton of games..i always thought it was though..you are putting me in a tough spot here..ive spent years touting this site and you as a writer..it has to be something wrong with my understanding of this..so if anyone can shed some light and help me understand better please do…the fresh quotes from tonights game presser were outstanding and you were the first to get it out there…the rest of it is confusing …and then this in your comment “This is the important sentence:”…articles have more than one sentence and each sentence should have some thing to offer other than space eating…maybe I’m wrong there as well..im not a know it all but i sure spend time trying to learn it all.

  • EBJM

    Shazam if it’s any consolation I’m reading it the same way. Tanking historically gets you a crack at a top three pick, think the Spurs who benched David Robinson and Sean Elliot to increase their chances at Tim Duncan.

    Sure Phoenix could have four 1st rd picks, the #14th, #15th, #23rd, & #30th. I also agree and doubt a team with a top three pick trades down to what the Suns have to offer.

    I see McMiracle getting a top ten pick though, maybe something between 7-10 for a 14th and 15th.

  • Voqar

    Getting a top 5 pick isn’t a guarantee of anything – the league is full of top picks….beasely, Williams, and more, that didn’t exactly pan out.

  • john

    You’re misunderstanding. Kevin is saying the Suns AREN’T tanking in the traditional sense that you suck as badly as possible for the sake of ping pong balls, but they might still be able to get the result (a top pick by trading assets).

    I think it’s spelled out pretty clearly.

  • john

    And whether or not you think it’s unlikely that any team would trade down in this draft, it doesn’t remove the possibility.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    They should keep both Dragic and Bledsoe. Teams are unable to cope with this duo.

    Dragic is now one of the most complete players in the game, plus he is a leader and tough as nails.

    It would be insane to trade either one.

    Plumlee is also a keeper.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    My opinion is that the Suns have the ability to get a top-5 pick between their many draft picks and players available. We can disagree on that, and that’s fine.

    I wrote the article to kind of level the NBA.com story, because I thought it was misleading. Hence the headline. A lot of people took the McDonough quote (which is not dated, by the way) as something new. The Hornacek quote from this summer next to it gives the same sense — Phoenix will pull the trigger to bring in a star if the opportunity is there.

    @john sums up what I tried to say above, and again, I’m of the opinion the Suns can get a very good player by moving into the top-5 or close to it. It’s not as if the talent suddenly drops off when five players are off the board.

    As for Dragic, I think it’d be fine to keep him with Bledsoe. If they don’t like the combo, then I think the Suns should play hardball in getting a lot for Dragic. Considering what McDonough has done already, I think they could get quite a bit.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Also I edited that sentence because, yes, it was pretty unclear.

  • EBJM

    “Think of it this way — the Suns haven’t exactly needed to tank to get what tanking gets you, and that’s draft picks. Phoenix could have as many as four in the upcoming draft”

    These are Kevin’s exact words.

    You are correct, it is spelled out pretty clear.

    The purpose of “tanking” isn’t to get you draft picks, it is suppose to get you LOTTERY draft picks. Every team gets ONE 1st rd draft pick whether they are playoff-bound OR “tanking”.

    “Tanking” doesn’t mean obtaining multiple draft picks. You could obtain multiple draft picks through “tanking” if you were able to trade off valuable veteran players such as Scola, Nash, Gortat, and Lopez for picks.

    “Tanking” has always implied losing to obtain a potential franchise player through the draft lottery, not obtaining multiple picks ranging #15 through #30.

    In the aforementioned example of the Suns, they aren’t losing so that infers that they weren’t “tanking” even though when they traded Scola and Gortat they were made in the spirit of tanking. Problem is somebody forgot to tell the players and coach Hornacek.

    I clearly stated that I think a team would be willing to trade a #7 pick through #10 for a #14 & #15. Draft is always a crap-shoot and some teams might feel they could get two good players instead of one in this draft in that range.

    Were the Suns “tanking” in the traditional sense when they traded Nash and Lopez last season and ended up with 25 wins and last place? No. They hired McMiracle and he went for the full rebuild-mode this season. He dumped Scola and Gortat and everyone thought they were heading for the lottery via “tanking”. Their surprising success just means they had to reevaluate their plans after 20 games.

    If the Suns were the worst team in the league this whole conversation would be moot.

    But it still doesn’t change the meaning of Kevin’s words. “Tanking” is suppose to land you in the draft lottery, not multiple picks from #15 through #30.

  • EBJM

    Sorry Kevin, missed your edit. Please feel free to delete.

  • john

    @EBJM – Not sure how you’re missing this point. They don’t have to keep their picks. Is it possible that a team would trade a top 5 pick for three two first rounders this year and a first in each of the next two years? I definitely think so. And with the assets the Suns have, they could make that deal without even involving a third team and still have picks of their own.

    They still CAN get a prime pick. That’s the point. They didn’t have to tank to put themselves in a position where they might still have a shot at the lottery.

  • john

    Just two or three, not “three two” of course.

  • Sunsn7

    Wow my post reads badly. Its the “smart” phone, not the medical mary mary! :)

  • SJose

    Tanking is not about the possibility of bunching assets and trading up. Tanking is about Riggin for Wiggins, and no one is trading that pick.

    That said, the Rockets never tanked and now they have two star players and probably are one or two impact guys from being serious contenders.

    So..I’m find with McD’s Rocketesque turn.

  • SHAZAM

    i don’t think we have any combination that trades for a top 5 pick..we can disagree on that.

  • SHAZAM

    and i totally agree with trying to clarify a misleading headline..but doing it with clarity so that its easier understood is optimal..i like the re-edit..ok i can go back to touting this site :)

  • SHAZAM

    @ebjm your quote “Their surprising success just means they had to reevaluate their plans after 20 games.” = perfect..concise,prescient and easy to understand

  • http://none Go Phx

    Two words: Greg Monroe.

  • Solarion

    The one consolation to having a bad team is at least you can look towards the future and have some hope/chance via the draft, with a winning team you know that other FA’s will be attracted to winning a title so you’ll always be a favorable destination to FAs. The SUNS are neither at the moment. And having multiple picks in the 18-27 range won’t change that.

    On a side note; every time I pick up a new player jersey they either leave or are traded the following year – so far I bought a Stoudemire jersey- gone the next year, and then Nash. I’m afraid at the moment because I want to buy a Dragic’ away jersey but all this talk about sending Goran somewhere else is concerning =(.

  • Zack B.

    Why would ANY Suns fan want Horford, Randolph, and especially Asik? Asik is not nearly worth the trades you guys proposed. Plumlee does what he does and more. Yeah Asik is better now, but Plumlee will prove to be better in the next few years, I say develop him and Len, leave our center position alone. Horford and Randolph are aging, and not the type of stars we need. We’re obviously looking more for a star SF/PF, and the one that seems most likely now is Love. Although I’d like to wait and see cause I’d prefer a wing player. Love seems to be the only franchise player available right now, but who knows, like McD said, stars get disgruntled. And don’t get such high hopes about a blockbuster by the deadline. Teams get trigger happy on draft day. That could very much be the day we pull off a blockbuster.

  • JK

    If the Suns’ plan was to tank the 2013-2014 season, they would not have gotten rid of Michael Beasley. In fact, they would be playing him 40+ minutes a night so that his inefficiencies could be maximized. I have a feeling that McDonough is a moneyball type of guy and he has created an exciting team destined for a playoff run while having the NBA’s second-lowest roster payroll.

  • NOitall

    A few thoughts:

    [1] The Bledsoe-Dragic tandem works on both ends of the floor and both are perfectly happy. We need to extend both guys and that should be our backcourt. Worked with KJ and Horny, works with Bledsoe & Dragic. There really shouldn’t be any discussion of trading Dragic unless we get a huge upgrade somewhere. Right now, there are very few backcourt tandems as good as ours.

    [2] We need to upgrade our PF position. At this point, while I like a guy like Asik, the reality is Plumlee is solid at center and there really is no need to do anything there unless we are upgrading to a legitimate interior offensive threat that can also defend and rebound at the center spot. Who would that be right now?

    Gasol is too pricey and too old. Z-bo? Really? ATL is not trading Horford. Let’s face it, Asik, Pekovic and Vucevic are all very similar to Gortat, and while those three are probably superior to Plumlee, they aren’t superior enough. What plumlee gives us on the defensive side outweighs the extra 2-4 points any of those other will provide. Plus, Plumlee is going to get better. He is exactly the kind of role playing center that supplements a scoring PF – which is where our upgrade should focus.

    Who is a scoring PF that can do it from all angles? KEVIN LOVE. That is the guy we should be going after. You put Love and his perimeter shooting along side Plumlee and we should be solid.

    I don’t particularly like Love’s attitude, but I do think his game fits nicely with what we have here.

    Lock up Dragic and Bledsoe now!

  • JK

    I’m all for acquiring love, but let’s face it. He is probably going to Los Angeles. Unless we can pull off a sign-and-trade with Minnesota when his contract expires so that we can lock him up long-term, Phoenix will probably not be his destination when free agency comes.

  • NOitall

    @JK – Why not?

    LA may have the lure of more endorsement opportunities and being back in LA. But they also have a regressing, less than mediocre team that is cap strapped and has only Pau Gasol to offer.

    Yes, it is a challenge, I won’t sugar coat it. But it is FAR from impossible and we have positioned ourselves nicely back into the thick of being a destination for FA, especially on that wants to win. We have the cap flexibility to absorb love, pay dragic and Bledsoe, keep our bench and still have a draft talent.

    LA has Kobe and a bunch of retreads. That is enough of a deterrent to keep Love from going there.