The Phoenix Suns are the third youngest team in the NBA, but they’re fighting for a playoff spot in the brutal Western Conference. They lead the New Orleans Pelicans by one game for the eighth seed in the West, and have a three-game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder. But the upcoming trade deadline represents an important, nuanced opportunity to upgrade.
The reason for nuance is, how does general manager Ryan McDonough balance this team’s assets and youth with the need to improve? In other words, how does this young team take the next step toward contending in the future without giving up key players?
More from Suns News
- Ranking the Phoenix Suns’ 5 holiday games in 2023-24
- Zion Williamson gets compared to Phoenix Suns legend
- Suns player preview: Bol Bol can be the perfect role player
- Former Suns’ guard shows he is officially done with Phoenix
- NBA insider guarantees Suns’ rival won’t make blockbuster trade
I don’t envy McDonough in the task at hand. He’s stockpiled assets and attractive young pieces, but turning them into star players seems to be the next, unattainable step. Phoenix’s identity lies on the offensive end, but top-10 defenses (at least) are what win championships.
Expecting a blockbuster move by this year’s trade deadline seems to be a pipe dream, especially since the Suns want to re-sign Goran Dragic — probably their most enticing piece of trade bait — when he becomes a free agent this summer.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the players McDonough should at least be considering with the Feb. 19 trade deadline rapidly approaching, as well as how the potential deals would look (using ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine). We start with some honorable mentions before breaking down the top five.
NOTE: The Suns cannot take on more than 150 percent plus $100,000 of additional salary in any trade (except Eric Bledsoe, who is unlikely to be traded anyway).
Next: Honorable Mentions