When Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough traded Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic in 2015, they didn’t just get Brandon Knight in return, they received Mikal Bridges.
In 2014-15, the biggest trade asset the Phoenix Suns held was one of two Los Angeles Lakers first round picks acquired in the Steve Nash trade. It was heavily protected at first, but had the opportunity to eventually become totally unprotected. And with the Lakers not appearing to be on the rise at all, it had a chance of being a top-10 pick when it was finally transferred.
But, on February 19, 2015, the craziest trade deadline day in Phoenix Suns History, Ryan McDonough sent that pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in a package who’s return was essentially Brandon Knight.
This is how that trade looked:
Seconds later, Goran Dragic, who days before had publicly demanded a trade from the Suns, was sent in a three-team deal that brought Phoenix back a protected first round pick in 2018 and an unprotected pick in 2021.
That trade looked like this:
At the exact same time (remember, this was an incredibly crazy day), Isaiah Thomas was shipped to the Boston Celtics. In return Phoenix acquired Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first round pick, which was traded in ‘16 to the Sacramento Kings along with an additional first round pick (details noted below) and Bogdan Bogdanovic for Marquese Chriss.
That Thomas trade was:
In the end, after those four trades, Phoenix had moved The Lakers’ 2018 first round pick, Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic, Zoran Dragic, Tyler Ennis, and Miles Plumlee and acquired Miami’s 2018 first round pick (it was actually originally 2017 but with protections was not passed to Phoenix until 2018), Miami’s unprotected 2021 first round pick, Cleveland’s 2016 first round pick (via Boston), Brandon Knight, Kendall Marshall, Danny Granger, John Salmons, and Marcus Thornton.
When the 2018 NBA Draft began, the biggest trade asset the Suns appeared to own (aside from Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and the first overall pick that was used on Deandre Ayton) was the 2021 unprotected Miami pick, which had seemingly grown in value with the recent news that the NBA’s one-and-don’t rule might end prior to the 2021 draft.
Ryan McDonough had even recently said that that pick was extremely valuable to him and stated that it would take a lot to trade it away.
Then the Philadelphia 76ers called with what was apparently a trade proposal they could not refuse:
But here is the irony of that trade: the Suns traded the 16th pick (which was the first of two picks acquired from Miami) and the 2021 unprotected pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the 10th overall pick – the very pick that Phoenix once owned and was traded for Brandon Knight.
Therefore you could literally say that the Phoenix Suns traded Goran Dragic, for Brandon Knight and Mikal Bridges.
Obviously there were other smaller pieces involved that made the original trades work, but in the end, those players above are the only ones that remain on the three respective teams.
One thing is certain about Ryan McDonough: he sure does know how to surprise the hell out of everyone with his trades, for better or worse.
Many Suns fans are disappointed that the Suns traded that Heat unprotected pick as it will come in a year that should be the first after the one-and-done rule is over and was thought to have a ton of value attached to it for that reason. (Plus, if the Heat are really bad or really lucky, it could be the number one pick, for all we know, and if there is a generational player at the top of the draft at that point and Bridges hasn’t fulfilled any of his promise, then Suns fans will be sick to their stomachs and Ryan McDonough at that point might be out of a job.)
The irony of the fact that Phoenix essentially traded the Lakers’ pick for itself shouldn’t get passed anyone.
That being said, Mikal Bridges will be 22-years-old at the start of the season and is a bit more seasoned than the (now) average player coming out of college. He has two national championships and a star on last year’s team. He has been compared to both Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green. If Bridges does live up to that promise and he is a good starter for a playoff Phoenix Suns team, then the multiple crazy trades that it took to end up with him in the 2018 NBA Draft, might very well be worth it.