With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, many Suns fans are desperate for the team to make a move.
The challenge for the Suns is that no possible deal made this year will be directly responsible to making them championship contenders now or in the future. Any trade made that satisfies fans will also damage their ability to become contenders in the near future. This is why NBA GMs get paid the big bucks. It is not an easy job and doing the right thing usually makes your customers and boss angry.
For the Suns to make a deal that makes sense for the best interests of the organization, they need to find a player with All-Star or greater potential, who is under 25, and who won’t cost them so much that they can’t easily acquire more All-Stars. That player also needs to currently play for a team willing to make a deal.
The list of players who fit that description is not very long. Here is the list as I see it:
- Andrew Wiggins
- Andre Drummond
- D’Angelo Russell
- Bradley Beal
- Steven Adams
If you account for the fact that the Suns wouldn’t want Bradley Beal because they have Booker and that they wouldn’t want Steven Adams because they have Alex Len this list is really just Russell, Drummond, and Wiggins.
The Case for Drummond
Of that list, Andre Drummond makes the most sense for the Suns. Stan Van Gundy wants to get rid of Reggie Jackson, the Detroit version of Brandon Knight. In order to move Jackson, Stan is going to have to package him with an asset people actually want. Detroit needs a premier point guard to run the high-tempo offense they want. Phoenix has a premier point guard who doesn’t fit their long-term plans. Phoenix needs a premier big man who can cover up the paint when ball handlers blow by Devin Booker and need someone in the paint to diversify their offensive play calling.
Drummond seems like he has been playing for a long time, but he is still just 23 years old. The man is a monster in the middle. He averages 14 points and 14 rebounds a game. He is one of the most dominate post players in the NBA.
The problem for the Pistons is that he doesn’t fit the mold of player they want. They’re looking for a Davis, a Cousins, a KAT kind of player. Andre has been critical of Stan and Stan has been critical of Andre. While there’s a Dwight Howard kind of confrontational respect, there’s also nothing untouchable about Drummond’s status with the Pistons.
Any deal with Detroit is going to require the Suns taking back Reggie Jackson. That’s a fundamental ticket for entry. The thought of Jackson and Knight on the same team is painful. That said, Drummond and Jackson on the team isn’t going to make the Suns a playoff team and thus won’t hurt their draft standings.
For the the deal to make sense for the Suns, they have to find a trade that doesn’t include this year’s picks and includes as few future draft picks as possible. Here are a few options:
To Detroit: Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender, and 2018 first-round pick (via Miami)
To Phoenix: Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson
This would be a blessing for the Suns if the Pistons were willing to take back Brandon Knight. T.J. Warren gives them a versatile scorer off the bench; Bender gives them the kind of big man Stan is looking for; Bledsoe is an instant upgrade and they get a pick from a Miami team that’s a wild card.
Suns get Drummond without hurting their future too badly. Draft Ball, Fultz, or Jackson to pair with Booker, Chriss, and Drummond and that team may be championship capable in 3-5 years. This also forces a trade of Len or Chandler in a separate deal for future assets.
To Detroit: Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, Marquese Chriss, and 2018 1st rd pick (via Miami)
To Phoenix: Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson
This is a more realistic trade. Len and Chandler allow Detroit to keep some inside toughness. Chriss fits the mold of player they’re looking for alongside Morris and Harris. This instantly makes the Pistons more likely to be in the playoffs this year and more competitive over the next 3-5 years.
Same return and same reasons for the Suns above.
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To Detroit: Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len, TJ Warren, Dragan Bender, Tyson Chandler, and 2018 1st rd pick (via Miami)
To Phoenix: Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson
This is my favorite deal if only because of my unabashed love of Stanley Johnson. This gives the Pistons a young player at every position except for shooting guard where they don’t need help. It gives them a future first-round pick and a veteran center to help them win now.
This is a clear win for the Suns as Stanley Johnson instantly upgrades the Suns defense and is a better fit alongside Booker than is Warren. The Suns give up a lot, but now have a clear young base of Drummond, Chriss, Johnson, Booker, and either Fultz or Ball. Add in the future picks of their own and the Miami 2021 pick and the Suns are well positioned for the future.
The Suns best option at the trade deadline is likely to do nothing at all. Although that may not be an option for the Suns management team if they want to retain their jobs. If that’s the case, trading for Drummond just might be a way to satisfy present demands without sacrificing the opportunity to be future contenders.