With less than two weeks remaining before the March 25 trade deadline, the Phoenix Suns have to be vetting the potential targets who could provide that little boost for a team headed for the playoffs.
There are risks in messing with the team’s current chemistry, though, seeing how the Suns have won 17 of their past 20 games.
Chris Paul and Devin Booker are doing and saying all the right things.
Of six prominent names who could be available before the trade deadline, the Phoenix Suns should look more favorably on some than others.
Plenty of names have surfaced, from DeMarcus Cousins (you know him) all the way down to Alize Johnson (a 2018 second-round pick playing in the G-League, who, at 6-7, 212, is said to have attracted interest from the Suns and others, according to The Ringer).
We’re here to help.
Phoenix Suns targets to add: No. 3 on the “No” list
DeMarcus Cousins is respected and appreciated by NBA players and coaches, so the chemistry issue is not so big a hurdle here.
The reason for the “No” vote is the style fit. Or lack of it. Cousins, because of major injuries, no longer carries a specific high-quality style of play. He’s trying to fight those injuries, as well as Father Time, and the Suns probably know that can find a better option.
Phoenix Suns targets to add: No. 3 on the “Yes” list
We’ll make this a short entry, since it surely won’t be a popular idea.
Trevor Ariza has several strikes against him, but allow this possibility to make its way into your thinking.
First, the bad: He’s 35; he hasn’t played this season; with the Suns in 2017-18, he flamed out and didn’t exactly try to make the most of his time.
But he wouldn’t need more than 10 minutes per game to fill a small role with the Suns — and he’d be interested now that Phoenix is a legitimate playoff team.
He started all 21 games he played with Portland last season, hitting .400 from 3-point range. Given the Suns’ current reluctance to use Langston Galloway, maybe Ariza brings a small boost.
He can probably still put in some quality minutes on defense, too, when properly motivated.
We know: It’s a reach.
Phoenix Suns targets to add: No. 2 on the “No” list
P.J. Tucker reportedly wants out of the Houston Rockets fire-sale-to-be as soon as possible.
He’d love to join a contender and is, obviously, familiar with the Suns organization.
The support for such an acquisition, though, is too firmly rooted in fond memories of the hard-nosed veteran.
His practice battles with a youthful Devin Booker were intense and productive — especially for Booker. The problem with this idea would be that Tucker’s game is basically a poor-man’s Jae Crowder and just doesn’t fit with this group.
Phoenix Suns targets to add: No. 2 on the “Yes” list
JaVale McGee would bring an interesting dynamic to the Suns.
The team doesn’t have its non-taxpayer mid-level exception, having used it on Jae Crowder, but the Bi-Annual exception is available.
That means, via Spotrac, a little more than $3.6 million to chase a recently released free agent or to assist in a sign-and-trade deal.
That fits the parameters to look at McGee, 33, who is all of 7 feet and 270 pounds. He’s a lively presence on defense and would provide the short-term energy Phoenix needs when Deandre Ayton takes a breather.
Phoenix Suns targets to add: No. 1 on the “No” list
Andre Drummond is making the rumor-mill rounds, but even if the Suns could make it work financially, this is a bad idea.
Drummond, twice an All-Star, was producing 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game when he was benched after 25 games as Cleveland seeks to make a deal.
It’s possible the Cavaliers find something on the trade market, but Drummond is owed $28.7 million and that makes the big guy a more likely buyout candidate.
Bleacher Report wrote recently that league executives “believe the Suns are a big man away from being a legit threat in the West. That’s why they anticipate the Suns will make a run at Cleveland’s Andre Drummond.”
There are better options, including Drummond’s teammate JaVale McGee.
Phoenix Suns targets to add: No. 1 on the “Yes” list
Hassan Whiteside, who makes a little more that $2 million, could be acquired via trade or if the Sacramento Kings decide to buy him out.
The proven rim protector and shot-blocker would make for an ideal fit as Ayton’s backup, but also capable of filling a starting role should Ayton suffer an injury.
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.
At least he will be when he returns.
Whiteside, 31, was inactive again Thursday night and hasn’t played since Feb. 21 due to the league’s health and safety protocols. It’s not clear when he’ll be back.
So there’s no immediate opportunity to showcase his ability? No worries. There’s plenty of video evidence.
Especially from his playoff resume: In 20 postseason games he’s produced 9.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per playoff game.