Like most NBA teams, the Phoenix Suns took a huge financial hit from COVID-19. One of the ways they could recoup those funds is by selling their first-round pick.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental, physical, and financial well-being of nearly everyone on Earth. While the NBA’s (so far very successful) bubble experience has helped alleviate some of those burdens, the impact on teams’ bottom line has still been very impactful, and the Phoenix Suns are no exception.
With financial hard times, teams are expected to explore creative ways to make money and one of those ways is for teams to sell draft picks.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN quoted one team executive as saying:
“I suspect first-round picks will be for sale in this draft. We haven’t really seen that in a decade.”
He was almost right with his decade estimation. The last first-round pick to be sold was in 2013 by the Denver Nuggets to the Utah Jazz who ended up selecting Rudy Gobert #27.
Would the Phoenix Suns trade their first-round pick?
The Phoenix Suns are no stranger to dishing assets for cash. Most recently, they shipped TJ Warren and, because evidently that wasn’t good enough of a deal, their 2020 second-round pick to the Indiana Pacers for nothing but money in return.
Would James Jones (and probably more so Robert Sarver) be willing to do that again with their first-round pick in 2020? If there was ever a draft to do it, this might be the one.
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This class is historically weak with no one expected to be franchise-changing. Because of this, I think a prudent move could be to trade the pick (expected to be 10th overall if the lottery odds hold true), but the idea there is that the Suns get a solid veteran in return.
If they give up their first-round pick for nothing of direct basketball-related benefit, regardless of how weak this draft class is, expect some serious malcontent within the fanbase. For a team on the rise to sell off an opportunity to get better would be a slap to the face of the progress that has been made thus far, and would further diminish the already poor reputation of the Suns’ front office.
In order to recoup some dollars, the Suns have already made some tough cuts. They recently just laid off 27 employees from the business operations department, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the team doesn’t stop there.
The Suns also announced the sale of their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, to the Detroit Pistons. Their justification focused on developing younger players in their own practices and by their own coaching staff, however, you have to wonder how much of this was a money grab.
I do not pretend to fully understand the intricacies of Robert Sarver’s financials, but hopefully, he is willing to bear the brunt of the losses and won’t resort to what I would consider self-defeating measures to make money like selling the team’s first-round pick.
Then again, with Sarver, who knows what will happen?