If Suns are aggressive in FA, they should be in trades too

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 16: Devin Booker
PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 16: Devin Booker /

On Saturday evening, Scott Bordow reported that Ryan McDonough has decided to accelerate the timeline and become aggressive in the free agent market – only several months after saying the exact opposite.

However, when one takes a quick peek at the list of free agents available to sign this summer, you quickly notice that there is not a lot available that will make the Suns any better than they are now.

You can check out the entire list here.

So unless Kevin Durant is willing to take less money than what the Golden State Warriors can offer and come to a team that does not already have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the roster, I dare a reader to find even one other unrestricted free agent worthy of a max contract offer (you certainly could say DeMarcus Cousins, although now that he will be recovering from his achilles tendon injury, his future team does run the risk of both extended rehab, and potentially lingering issues for the remainder of his career).

Suns fans can also hope to max out players like Aaron Gordon or Clint Capela in hopes that their current employers do not match, however one would assume that Orlando and Houston will not let them leave, and if Phoenix did snag one, they would be in a position to have too many power forwards and centers on the roster, immediately necessitating a subsequent move or two.

It is that necessity to make a move or two that brings me to the point of this article: If the Suns are going to be aggressive in free agency, then they too must be aggressive in the trade market.

And in my opinion, they should be even more  aggressive in finding talent through trades than targeting talent in free agency.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

While free agency would be helpful in filling out a roster with depth and role players, those star studded players that would actually take the Suns over the top are rarely if ever available, and when they are the market for them is intense. Phoenix has players, assets, and contracts necessary to make almost any kind of trade (whether it be a two or three-for-one; a blockbuster; a salary dump; and multi-team trade; the ability to move up in the draft; the ability to move back in the draft; and the ability to take on a disgruntled star) each because of their large amount of cap space set to be there for them this summer, putting Phoenix in prime position to pull off almost anything to improve the roster in one fell swoop.

Thus, this is where the action should be, and truly where the focus of Ryan McDonough needs  to be after the draft.

When the Suns might decide to become aggressive or make a face-lifting trade is the real question. Right now they are losing with almost no hope of turning the season around so the opportunity to draft a franchise player and add him to the roster for nothing more than a rookie-scale contract is extraordinarily tempting. Adding a star player right now through trade – or even just a decent everyday starting point guard – would significantly decrease the odds of selecting one of those top-7 potentially franchise-making players.

Therefore the chances are that unless someone calls General Manager Ryan McDonough with an offer that he literally cannot refuse (let’s say the Spurs offer Kawhi Leonard for nothing more than Phoenix’s own 2018 first round pick), then even answering the phone when a general manager calls could jeopardize the entire process.

Should Phoenix successfully suffer through the rest of this miserable season and find themselves with one of those coveted top spots, they will certainly receive offers for their lottery slot. San Antonio might actually offer Leonard. Detroit might offer Andre Drummond. Who knows: the Knicks might actually prefer to trade Porzingis in favor of the opportunity to draft DeAndre Ayton. Certainly those scenarios could all be nothing more than the pipe dreams of a fanbase long desperate for relevance in a league where Phoenix was a gold standard franchise, but the situation may present itself where McDonough could have a chance to land an established veteran star and may need to take that opportunity to supplant several years of a young player’s growth with an immediate impact player.

But should Phoenix get through all of that unscathed, and they face the impeding free agency window realizing that there really is nothing there that would re-shape the roster, no matter how aggressive Ryan McDonough wants to be now, it is the aggressiveness in trades that will make the difference.

Yes the Suns will have lots of cap space with Greg Monroe’s contract off the books and as they have been attempting for the past seven months, they could create even more if they offload either or both of Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley’s contracts for the right price.

However, just dumping them off for second round picks only creates cap space and a roster spot to add a player outright, through free agency. But those contracts might also be necessary in the more likely scenario of finding talent through trade where acquiring a player of Leonard, Drummond, or Porzingis’ level of talent and such a move may only be possible with the addition of Dudley and/or Chandler to make the trade work logistically.

Next: Devin Booker is frusterated: The Phoenix Suns need to do something about it

It is through trade that Phoenix will upgrade the roster, and it is through trade that the Suns need to be aggressive. It is nice to think that Kevin Durant, Clint Capela, and Chris Paul would each sign free contracts with the Suns and create a big four without having to move any of the younger players, although the odds of Phoenix acquiring any one of them is about as slim as screen you are reading this post on.

Stating in January that the Suns will be aggressive in free agency is nice, but that is not the right place to be aggressive.