It is no secret that Ryan McDonough is trying to add a Superstar to the Phoenix Suns’ roster.
Ideally a superstar would be acquired through the draft as that player would come in young and cheap and the Suns would not have to give anyone or anything up to get him. However, McDonough has not been sheepish when making trades in the past and would be more than willing to pull the trigger on a blockbuster should the right player become available and the move definitely improved the team.
Obviously superstars do not come along very often and the opportunity to make a trade for one without gutting the roster is just as rare.
From LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony two seasons ago, to LaMarcus Aldridge last season, and DeMarcus Cousins this season, McDonough has swung big in trying to improve the team quick.
He has also missed big.
But this isn’t baseball, and you’re not out after three whiffs.
In sports, most General Manager’s will publicly play coy about their plans for trades and free agency to try and confuse other teams who might have a similar interest in players. But Ryan McDonough has been anything but coy about his desire to find and lure a superstar to the Suns and totally reshape the roster immediately.
Then today in an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7’s Doug and Wolf Show as part of their annual Newsmakers Week, he added another nugget of interest for public consumption:
“We’re not going to throw the farm at one player. We’re not one elite player from being a Championship team. Now, if we can figure out how to get two elite players and keep…most of our core guys, then we have to think about that…
If we can get another couple guys to go with them (Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker), who are as good or better than them, then we have to think about that and that’s something we’re actively weighing.”
Two superstars?? NOW we’re talking!
Without digging too deeply into what this could mean, let’s take two things into consideration:
This is the All-Star Weekend where many of the league’s players are in New Orleans at the same time, whether they are participating in the competitive side of it or not. And let’s also not forget that the players now have an extended break following the weekend coupled with a few days before the trade deadline to talk and hangout.
This week is the best time of the season for players to recruit one another and convince future free agents to move in the off-season, or disgruntled players to demand a trade before the impending deadline.
At minimum, Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, and Derrick Jones Jr. are in New Orleans because they have actual competitions to participate in. But there will surely be others who will make their way to the festivities, while the extended vacation following Sunday’s All-Star game may allow even more to meet up in other locations to hang out.
We should not expect Chriss or Jones to be much in the way of a major endorsement of the Suns
franchise and roster, but Booker is certainly climbing up the ladder of respect among players. Not to mention Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, and Earl Watson would all be solid voices of recruitment.
But what does this all mean for Ryan McDonough?
Because of his comments, the entire league is now totally on notice that McDonough is searching for two stars to play alongside Bledsoe and Booker – a fact that is extremely important. Stars never want to be traded to a roster that had to gut itself to acquire said star (ahem…Sorry Carmelo…) Players who either want to play alongside Bled and Book or want to play for Phoenix in general, know that if they come here now the Suns aren’t looking to trade either star to make the move, meaning a star-laden core is in place, regardless of who else is used as trade chips.
It is then no doubt that Suns players and staff will be using this weekend to make a pitch for certain stars who may be available within the next few days or at worst following the regular season.
Which is aaaaaall part of McDonough’s plan.
Is this kind of backroom dealing going on all the time, with every team, even outside of All-Star Weekend get togethers?
But not every team has the assets and cap space to make dramatic moves to bring in multiple stars in one fell swoop. So the statements made in the interview coupled with the perfect timing of the All-Star weekend are all part of McDonough’s plan.
Plus it’s not like McDonough also hasn’t been dropping other hints that would make trades even easier along the way.
Although he has said it in the past several times, he reiterated this point in the interview this morning regarding Phoenix’s abundance of cap space:
“I think we’re about $13 or 14 million under the salary cap, so we’re able to take on more salary in a trade than we send out.”
So not only can the Suns take on stars in a lop-sided contractual deal using draft picks as the core of the package, but he can also acquire big contracts of players who are a weight on other team’s caps, so long as they are combined with sweeteners such as a young player or a first-round draft pick.
Compiled, those sweeteners can further act as assets that can be flipped for the stars that he is looking to acquire.
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Whether or not statements like these have been part of a public awareness campaign, player recruitment conversations, or the push for potential sweeteners, if he can actually net the two additional stars he covets by the trade deadline on February 23 remains to be seen.
The truth of the matter is that he may already know that building the team before the season ends is a fools errand and is strictly setting the table now so that in the off-season the pieces are in place and the blockbuster trade(s) can happen then.
Plenty has been said and plenty more will be said over the next few days leading up to the trade deadline that will give fans a lot to read into.
Soon Suns fans will no longer inquire into the deeper meaning of every quote and scour for signs of truthfulness in every random rumor.
Hopefully all of the backroom conversations and public subterfuge will finally pay off into the kind of trade(s) that make the Suns contenders.