James Jones should seriously consider trading next year’s first round pick

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

The Phoenix Suns should be past the point of rebuilding and onto the phase of building up. With that in mind, future draft picks should absolutely be on the table for trade.

For the past four or so offseasons the Phoenix Suns have used draft picks as the heart of their rebuilding program, hoping to strike it rich in the lottery enough times to build a core that can gel together for the foreseeable future potentially developing into a championship dynasty ala the Golden State Warriors.

At least that was the plan.

And it worked, kind of.

In the midst of blowing top picks on Alex Len, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and Josh Jackson, Devin Booker was taken 13th overall after a 39-43 record in 2014-15, then Phoenix finally landed the number one overall pick in 2018 and took Deandre Ayton.

Boom. Two core pieces that should each develop into undeniable stars (one arguably already has) and can stay together for(ever), a core of two that can be built around productively with suave/smart trades (for instance Kelly Oubre) and the occasional surprise free agent signing of a star player.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

While Phoenix has added a few good players at other places in the draft (for instance, T.J. Warren was taken 15th overall and Mikal Bridges 10th, both of whom may very well be core pieces of the future should they not be split up due to the current glut of wings), the chances of the Suns landing another bonafied superstar while not drafting in the top-five are so small, the odds are heavily not in their favor.

This idea of playing the odds through the draft is something that has been on my mind for some time, an idea I have even referenced in a recent post.

If you consider draft picks as lottery tickets, one rarely wins when they play, but cannot win unless they do play.

However, one may also take their money that they would have spent on a lottery ticket and use it for other beneficial things in their life, any number of things that might have as much of or a greater chance of bringing happiness both in the long and short term.

With that perspective in mind, I believe that James Jones should, in his offseason attempts to make the Phoenix Suns a playoff team in 2019-20, use his 2020 first round pick as an integral part of his trade proposals with other teams, and even attempt to make sure that he enters this season without that asset in hand – and he should do so prior to the start of free agency.

The reason is simple: he wants this team to make the playoffs. He wants to add another star player to the roster, specifically needing to upgrade both point guard and power forward. He can potentially upgrade one of either position through free agency, which means that he will need to upgrade the other through trade.

The bigger the potential trade target too, the more assets he will need to use, and if a team is specifically looking for future assets in return (i.e. draft picks), such a desire is beneficial to Phoenix as Jones will assuredly prefer to retain as many of his young players with the continued hopes that they develop into the level of quality that each of their draft status’ would hint (I am specifically thinking of Josh Jackson, although T.J. Warren’s 2018-19 was so special that keeping him on this team moving forward can only help).

As of right now, with potential trade partners, the draft pick will hold a certain level of intrinsic value as well so long as the Suns closely resemble the team that just won only 19 games.

So while the trade acquisition of a good, solid power forward does make Phoenix better, without a point guard (the acquisition of one is not a guarantee), the Suns will still not project to make the playoffs, giving that future first additional value.

Then, with the trade acquisition of one of those two missing links, Jones can turn to free agency to fill the other hole and use the now improved and more solidified roster as a selling point to those upper echelon free agents that he will certainly target.

Try selling Kyrie Irving on the Phoenix Suns as is. Not a chance he gives them a second look.

However, add Tobias Harris through a sign-and-trade, and suddenly that Suns roster looks much more attractive to the free agent point guard (I am not sure that it is even possible for the Suns to contractually make those deals concurrently, so those two names are used strictly to illustrate the point rather than design an actual blueprint).

Suns fans have speculated using the team’s draft picks in the past as central pieces of potential trade packages for stars, but the team has never really been all that close to being competitive making those picks awfully high and hard to give away).

While the team is not that close as it is currently designed yet either, it finally  appears to be moving in the right direction and thus the 2020 first round pick will lose intrinsic value the longer the team h

olds onto it.

Must Read. Could the Phoenix Suns make a draft-based trade?. light

If James Jones trades that pick away in a package for a player who projects to be a central part of the team’s core for the foreseeable future, the sooner the trade is made, the better value that pick will have, thus giving him both extra leverage in the trade market itself, as well as in free agency, to add one more potential star.

Do not forget too, barring the biggest collapse…ever? The Phoenix Suns will own Milwaukee’s first round pick next year as well as it is only 1-7 protected and something tell me that the Bucks will be somewhere in the low 20’s.