It’s 10 days from the Feb. 20 trade deadline, and though any trade rumors involving the Suns seem murky at this point, it’s quite clear Phoenix is busy working the phone lines.
The reasons for the Suns’ apparent interest in Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol are obvious. They want a low-post presence for coach Jeff Hornacek’s offense, which seems at its best when working inside-out. Against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, the Suns found separation by posting unlikely post player Channing Frye, but that was only possible because Andrew Bogut and David Lee left a small defense on the court.
“Channing showed he can post up,” Hornacek said. “I don’t think that was maybe his reputation prior to this but we said, ‘Hey, we’ll throw him in the post.’ He made a key read at the beginning of that fourth quarter, I think it was, when he threw it out to Gerald to hit that three.”
Such an attack opened the opportunities for Green to get hot and for Goran Dragic to pour in 13 of his career-high 34 in the fourth quarter, but Phoenix would love to have that offensive ability every night — not just those where Frye is the biggest player on the court.
The targets and costs seems unclear because the Suns could swing for a star to play this year alone a la the Gasol rumor that’s gone cold because Phoenix is worried about the forward’s health. Or they could chase after a long-term player, which could hinder the team’s ability to attacking a 2015 free agency class — or even 2014’s — that’s deep in big names.
The rumors are out there. And the outcomes range from unlikely to intriguing.
Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics
The freshest rumor involving the Suns out there was reported by Sporting News’ Sean Deveney on Monday. Phoenix, Golden State and Charlotte are potential suitors for Brandon Bass, who has two years respectively worth $6.5 and $6.9 million on his contract left.
McDonough is quite familiar with Bass and is likely a big fan of his — this summer he was quick to dismiss questions of draftee Anthony Bennett’s height by comparing him to the Celtics forward. Bass is a nice player and a contributor who could take some minutes at center or power forward, but he would obviously get in the way of developing Miles Plumlee, Alex Len and the Morris twins.
Bass’ offensive versatility only goes as far as giving Phoenix another midrange threat, and defensively he would provide the ability to switch in pick-and-roll coverage more often.
As Deveney notes, Bass seems to be a Plan B considering Phoenix went after Gasol and called about Zach Randolph’s availability. Even for a first-round pick and contracts, it’s questionable how much of a difference Bass would really make.
And between just the Suns and Celtics, it’s hard to see a reasonable deal being worked out that involves Emeka Okafor’a contract or not.
Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
The fact the Suns called Memphis showed just how brazen McDonough is in inquiring about whatever is on his mind. USA Today’s Sam Amick reported that Phoenix made a call regarding Randolph, and though the Grizzlies seem far from likely in dealing their power forward, imagining him in orange and white could be even more appealing than any of these other options.
Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers
This is more a possibility than a rumor. Young’s contract owes him $8.9 million this year and $9.4 million next. That would allow Phoenix to try out the young power forward for a year and a half with Young having the ability to exercise an option on his contract in 2015-16, or move in a new direction via free agency.
As is, Young is a below-average rebounder who wouldn’t plug the lack of that production at power forward, nor does he project as a big upgrade as a defender considering his size. Young doesn’t have a jump shot with enough consistency to spread the floor like Frye — but a player can always learn.
Many have made a bigger deal out of the power forward position that it should be. Frye will always have a big role so long as he’s on the Suns, but again, the team as-is lacks that paint presence that could help the shooters, Dragic and Eric Bledsoe when he returns.
One thing that could hold any trade up is the Suns’ apparent interest in Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay. The forward can opt out of his contract and told ESPN’s Marc Stein this week that he is unsure whether he’ll do so or not.
Amick reports McDonough has an eye on Gay.
If Gay did opt out of his deal, the Suns might want to hold tight to have the ability to sign a player of his caliber this upcoming summer. It’s probable Gay will be pushing for a deal smaller than the $17.9 million he’s earning this season, but it will be a hefty contract nonetheless.