The Suns should do the Lakers a solid


I know, I know…everyone hates the Lakers – and with good reason.  But every once in awhile it just makes sense to help out your enemy…so long as you can help yourself.

The Lakers need to clear cap space for the summer. Magic Johnson has been clear about his path forward. He’s hanging onto the high potential young guns but he is otherwise clearing the deck to sign the NBA’s best players because they’re the Lakers, and obviously everyone wants to play for him.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

I think that level of ego is likely to blow up in his face, but God bless him for his confident approach.

Specifically, the Lakers want to take a run at signing two max-level free agents. They assume they’ll get Paul George to come home and they hope to also attract one of the other top free agents such as LeBron James or Boogie Cousins. They’re hoping that the young core built around Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma is appealing enough to make that dream become a reality.

The problem for the Lakers is that they’re carrying too many salaries into the summer to be able to sign two max level players. That Luol Deng contract is coming back to kill them. As a result, they need to shed roughly $15 million.

The shortest path to success for the Lakers would be to dump Deng’s $17M salary.  However, that would require the receiving team to get a serious sweetener, like a lottery pick, which the Lakers don’t have because they gave it away in the Steve Nash trade. The only other path is Jordan Clarkson and his $12M deal. While Clarkson is a decent young player, he’s not worth $12M and so the trade market is looking rough.

This is where the Suns can make Magic an offer that’s low risk for Phoenix, high reward for the Lakers, and see what happens.

Two specific potential deals:

Deal 1:

Deal 2:


In deal 1 the Suns get a solid backup PG and PF of the future in Clarkson and Nance. They also get a few months to see if Randle is worth taking a risk on in free agency. Turning one player at the end of your bench into three promising young prospects, including the son of a former star, is the kind of deal you take all day every day. There’s little risk and plenty of upside. It means they have to cut Cannan and House, but the talent upgrade more than justifies that.

In deal 2 the Suns take back the shell of a once useful player. For the second time in his career, Deng would never see the city of Phoenix even though the team owns his rights. They’d almost certainly waive him immediately. In return, the Suns add to their impressive haul of assets. Yes, I know the Lakers have said they don’t want to give up picks, but if they can’t find a better deal they will have a gun to their head. Missing out on big stars this summer will be a lot more painful than potentially losing out on picks years from now. From the Suns’ standpoint, these probably end up being mid-to-low level picks, but like the Dragic deal, it’s worth having the assets in hand on the off-chance their value soars.

Next: What a Tyson Chandler to the Milwaukee Bucks trade might look like


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the idea of dealing with the devil any more than you do, but sometimes it just makes too much sense not to.