If not Zion or Ja, trading will be difficult for the Phoenix Suns

James Jones Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry GossageNBAE via Getty Images)
James Jones Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry GossageNBAE via Getty Images) /

Many Phoenix Suns fans hope that they can trade their pick for someone they want if they aren’t able to land Zion Williamson for Ja Morant. But it won’t be easy.

Fans of the Suns (and management as well), are hoping and praying that Phoenix will land the first or second overall pick in the draft. The ability to select either Zion Williamson or Ja Morant this year is probably even more exciting than the opportunity to select between Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic last year.

However, if Phoenix ends up anywhere between three through seven (which is the furthest they can fall), many are hoping (if not expecting) that they will be able to trade that pick and acquire an established player who can help them right away.

But it won’t be that easy – if even possible at all.

To begin with, there is a wide presumption that the multiple wings on the roster currently are all better than those available in the draft.

Take Josh Jackson, for instance.

Suns management might believe (and there is still plenty of pre-draft research to be done) that any one of Rui Hachimura, DeAndre Hunter, or Cam Reddish will be better than Jackson either now or in the future.

I, for one, believe that if they do hold this opinion, that I would prefer to select that player and instead look to trade Jackson, than the reverse.

Let’s also say though that they believe Jackson to be superior in skill to the potential draftees.

It is entirely possible that they believe that the players selected 3-7 are all subpar with very low ceilings (irregardless of the wings currently on their roster).

Therefore, wherever they land, if they really  don’t want to draft that best player avialable, some team has to actually want the player that the Suns will be passing up on.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Hopefully  Phoenix’s scouting department is better than they have been given credit for in the recent past, and the information they have on the top players is both accurate and similar in ratings to other teams.

And then let’s say that the generally agreed upon ratings where Phoenix might pick from 3-7 are fairly low and non-impact.

Are the Suns going to get the kind of trade return that they (or at least fans) will want?

They’re certainly not going to get a star if the agreed upon rating of their pick is low, so even if a team offers a decent role player, but someone who doesn’t put Phoenix over the top at all, is that worth the 3rd through 7th pick (it must also be considered that their acquisition will cost a lot more in salary than the draft pick, which in-and-of-itself is a hindrance to the Suns and must be taken into consideration).

Since the Suns will likely target a point guard, take a look at the top-25 assist leaders from last season. Fortunately, I have even prepared the list for you here.

Is there one single point guard who has the combination of both age and cost that trading the 3-7 pick would make sense to the Suns? – which is the only team that matters in this discussion. I guarantee  that if James Jones offered Washington the third overall pick for John Wall they’d take it.

Actually, yes, but Atlanta is not trading Trae Young, Philadelphia is not trading Ben Simmons, Sacramento is not trading De’Aaron Fox, and Dallas is not trading Doncic.

Which leaves Brooklyn and D’Angelo Russell, who might not even need to be traded for, but for who the Suns would presumably certainly trade their 3-7 draft pick for if the Nets are so inclined.

But again, that is one team; one trade partner; who might have the right kind of point guard who the Suns could trade their pick for – and even that is absolutely no guarantee (the deal would also have to be a sign-and-trade as Russell is a restricted free agent, so even Russell does not fall perfectly into this scenario).

Honestly too, I cringe  whenever I see or hear people mention trading the pick for Kyle Lowry (33-years-old and $33M next season) or Mike Conley (31-years-old and $67M over the next two years).

Would it really be okay with fans to make either of those trades when there is even the slightest chance that whoever they can take from 3-7 will be really good versus wasting the pick on 1-2 years of an aged point guard who has no role for the future and who costs a ton  in the meantime?

No way.

Finally, history should be zero guide for the present (when it comes to the draft, that is), but it should also be noted that there has only been five draft day (or draft week) trades within the top-seven picks in the past ten drafts, and only once did that trade include a team who traded entirely out of the first round, instead of either trading up or dropping back (which we have to assume the Suns would prefer not to do).

In 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers traded the 6th overall pick (Nerlens Noel) as well as a 2014 First Round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for veteran PG Jrue Holiday and a Second Round pick.

Must Read. Ty Lue and the Lakers should make Phoenix Suns fans feel great. light

The truth of it is, of course the Phoenix Suns are going to look to trade their pick if they land 3-7, although if they don’t they’d be foolish. It’s both common knowledge and common practice.

However, the situation would have to be perfect  for a trade to actually be accomplished unless they truly do want to just sell off their pick like they did during the Mike D’Antoni days. Moving their pick for a legitimate piece will be very difficult, although there is always the chance that they trade up, which I explain precisely how they can pull that off, right here.