The Phoenix Suns are in need of a starting point guard, and there is a young one who might actually be ridiculously cheap to acquire.
The Phoenix Suns have presumably searched high and low for a starting point guard; the younger (and cheaper) the better to help continue to fit both the budget and similar age-range of the core.
In Philadelphia is a point guard who seems to be sliding farther and farther down the team’s depth chart, and according to one nationally respected NBA writer, is probably already on the outs with his team, and not all that expensive to acquire either:
Markelle Fultz is less than two years removed from being the first overall selection, but with some mysterious series of injuries and shooting form issues, he has never lived up to the player that he was at the University of Washington, and is arguably the third best point guard on his current roster.
The idea then that he could be acquired for so little, with the opportunity for the Suns to spend the next year or so attempting to rehabilitate him, would be huge for both he and Phoenix.
For the Suns, they get a starting-caliber point guard (he might not be on most teams around the league, but on the Suns he would most certainly be better than Isaiah Canaan, Elie Okobo, and De’Anthony Melton), and one who contractually would not hamper Phoenix moving forward as he is only valued at $8.3+ million this season and $9.7+ million next season.
From there, whoever he is with would have a team option for $12.2+ million in 2020-21, which could obviously then be rejected if he didn’t show the requite improvement to continue to commit so many millions of dollars.
The Suns are well known too for their medical work, widely considered to be the best in the business, and the location change would allow the Phoenix medical staff to work on Fultz and see what is the issue, and if there is anything underlying that maybe hasn’t been seen and can potentially be resolved here.
For Fultz the change of scenery might be good for his psyche. He is undoubtedly feeling tremendous pressure of failing as the first overall pick in Philadelphia which for all any knows could be part of what is holding him back. There is no doubt that whatever pressure he is feeling there, he can not ignore it.
In Phoenix, being in a new city, expectations wouldn’t be anywhere near here that they are there. Fultz could concentrate on ironing out his issues and the Valley of the Suns would patiently wait to see what can come of his off-the-court work.
If he works out, he improves both his health and his shot, and proves to be the player the Sixers thought they were getting in 2017, then Phoenix might have found their point guard of the future – the franchise point guard that Philadelphia is still hoping is inside him somewhere.
If he doesn’t work out, then the Suns will not have invested too much time on him, only this year and next, and can easily let him go before his $12+ million year.
So who and what would the Suns potentially have to trade to acquire Fultz according to Steve Kyler’s estimation of wealth?
My speculation is only Trevor Ariza and potentially the Milwaukee Bucks’ already protected first round pick.
Ariza would help them win now, a grizzled veteran who would help the Sixers spread the floor while also providing both experience and veteran leadership on a team continuing to attempt to take the necessary steps forward to becoming a championship team.
The Milwaukee pick is likely not going to be anything to spectacular (and won’t be transferred this season), but is a pick that will continue to hold value as a trade piece, something that Philadelphia can either hold onto, or use in a subsequent trade down the line.
The Suns of course would never trade their own pick in either 2019 or 2020, and any protections on it would keep Philadelphia out of the lottery as there is not a chance that the Suns would give up a potentially high pick for a player that might not ever work out.
I can’t really see Phoenix’s pick being movable at all in trade.
We’ll see how things work out if Philadelphia does decide to move on from him and the Suns do become a suitor.
Ariza can’t even be traded until January 15 and at the moment Fultz is scheduled to see a specialist this week so who knows how long he might be out at this point.
But if, come the middle of January, the Sixers appear to have totally given up on the second-year point guard and his value is similar to what Kyler believes it might be at the moment, then Phoenix might be able to throw that above offer at them and see if it works (Ryan Anderson could hypothetically be traded right away which too would fit the “win-now veteran” requirement, but with how poorly he has played for the Suns this season, to the point that he isn’t even playing anymore, I can’t see Philadelphia wanting him at all, not to mention the fact that he has another year under contract as well).