After Kevin Durant fell back into the waiting arms of the Brooklyn Nets, and Donovan Mitchell joined an elite young core at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the NBA turned its attention to who the next wantaway star could be. For a Phoenix Suns franchise armed with tradeable contracts and future picks, it’s a worthy discussion to monitor.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s name popped up here less than a fortnight ago, particularly after The Ringer’s Bill Simmons questioned his potential availability given the Oklahoma City Thunder’s direction towards another tanking season.
As the Phoenix Suns search for a major roster upgrade, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has again been mentioned should the franchise aim for a top tier star.
Gilgeous-Alexander has again been linked to the Suns as a potential trade candidate. Discussing potential Phoenix manoeuvres on a recent podcast episode, ESPN’s Zach Lowe put forward the idea of trading for the 24-year-old.
"“Depending on how the season is going. If I start to care a little more about next season and beyond than this season… A guy who could still help my team now but really help my team later. Why couldn’t the Suns be the inevitable Shai Gilgeous-Alexander godfather offer team? Short-term he has experience playing with CP in three-guard lineups…If it doesn’t work then guess what, Chris Paul isn’t going to be on the team in a year or two.”"
2022-23 will be the first year of a five-year, $179 million contract for Gilgeous-Alexander, meaning any potential team would have to stump up significant compensation to the Thunder. The idea of trading him seems ludicrous given his age, yet general manager Sam Presti has never been hesitant to trade star players, as we’ve seen with Russell Westbrook and Paul George in recent years.
The Canadian averaged 24.5 points last season, adding 5.9 assists and 5 rebounds in what is a well-rounded offensive skill set. At 6’6″ he has the size to play down a position defensively, making a three-guard lineup with Paul and Devin Booker much more tenable.
If the Suns can get their hands on Gilgeous-Alexander then it would be a monumental outcome for the franchise, even if they need to mortgage their entire draft capital in order to make it happen.