Phoenix Suns: 3 rumored acquisition targets

Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin (Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin (Photo by Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

The availability of a few big names stirs discussion among contending teams, including the first-place Phoenix Suns, especially this weekend during the All-Star pause.

As personnel execs wrestle with whether to stay put or become proactive, there are some good ideas and some that are never going to pass the smell test.

There are some who could fit with this team led by Chris Paul and Devin Booker, whose recent ejection raised a few questions.

The Phoenix Suns have lived up to every expectation for success, but now must decide whether to make a big move.

The needs are few, thanks to a terrific offseason by Suns GM James Jones and his team, but there are concerns at the backup big-man spots. Dario Saric has been very solid and Frank Kaminsky has been surprising, but any improvement could spell further success.

While several names have emerged — Kevin Love, JaVale McGee, P.J. Tucker and DeMarcus Cousins among them — the Suns may opt to stick with what’s working and stand pat before the March 25 trade deadline.

On the other hand, there are names out there that deserve a closer look.

We offer up three potential targets for Phoenix, and whether they make any sense.

Phoenix Suns consideration: Blake Griffin

We don’t know a whole lot about Blake Griffin’s preferred destination. Is he eager to slap the Clippers for their move to deal him away (to Detroit!)? The Los Angeles Lakers are looking for another useful big.

In Phoenix, though, Griffin would be similarly motivated if his biggest angle is punishing the Clippers; the Suns lead the Pacific Division.

But Griffin has shown that he’s Blake Griffin in name only. Injuries and personnel fit have conspired to weaken his on-court influence.

Griffin turns 32 this month and carries pedestrian averages of 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, down significantly from his current career marks of 21.7 and 8.4.

He played in only 18 games last season before a knee injury ended his campaign.

This season, he was shut down after 20 games after reaching an understanding with the Pistons that the team would seek a trade as he sat out.

No team was insane enough to trade for that contract, so he’s now free to negotiate with a new team of his choosing.

And the Suns really, really shouldn’t be involved.

Phoenix Suns consideration: Andre Drummond

The NBA analysts hate his game. Just about everywhere you look, references about “empty stats” abound.

Andre Drummond does have legitimate issues.

The Suns’ system relies on agile big men who can switch on the perimeter and who can run the pick and roll. Drummond is 0-for-2 in those areas.

Fair? Well, enough experts agree — but Drummond is putting up 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game and brings certain advantages on low-post defense.

Drummond led the NBA in Defensive Win Shares in back-to-back seasons with Detroit (2017-19), but his defensive game is more tailored to 1988 than 2021.

Deandre Ayton’s strong first half on the rebounding list — No. 7 in the NBA at 11.4 — is a big plus for Phoenix, and Drummond, whether playing with Ayton or in place of him, would not hurt that category.

At this point, though, Drummond would represent a pretty big commitment — and risk. He’s available only via trade and, with a $28.7 million cap number this season, it ain’t happening in Phoenix.

Drummond, like Griffin, has been shut down by his team as Cleveland pursues a trade. He hasn’t played since Feb. 12, but if he’s bought out then maybe there’s a small, small chance.

Phoenix Suns consideration: Hassan Whiteside

Just last season, the 7-foot Hassan Whiteside put up big numbers, leading the NBA in blocked shots (2.9 per game) while producing15.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game with Portland.

This season, he’s stuck in Sacramento’s downward spiral, and not receiving much playing time. If the Kings buy him out, he’s worth a look.

Whiteside, 31, is a fierce rim protector and shot-blocker. He’s in his 11th season and has 20 games of playoff experience.

Further playoff motivation could put off Father Time for a few months longer.

He played 30 minutes per game last season; he’s playing only 14.6 mpg with Sacramento. He’s reasonably fresh for the second half of the season.

Because he’s playing on a minimum contract, Whiteside would at least be affordable for Phoenix, which now will occasionally have to rely on Saric and/or Kaminsky guarding opposing bigs down the stretch and into the playoffs.

That’s a situation the Suns’ brain trust must believe can be improved. With two All-Stars, Booker and a deserving Chris Paul, the future is now.

If the Suns are going to make a significant transaction, this one — assuming the buyout and good health for Whiteside — works best.

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