With the Phoenix Suns floundering in the Western Conference right now, it is clear they could do with a few trades to shake up their season. The problem with doing that however, is that the franchise have precious little by way of picks or players to entice other teams to come to the negotiating table.
About their most valuable trade asset right now is role player Grayson Allen - but when you look at the team high 32 points in scored on Christmas Day in the loss to the Dallas Mavericks - you realize that they would be lost without him in The Valley. As a 3-point sharpshooter, he is everything the Suns thought he would be when they got him from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Given that this team also has so much money committed to Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, any potential trades they make would also have to be for players who do not make a lot of money this season. This makes the talent pool of realistic trade targets given the current situation of the organization tiny in comparison to other teams in the league.
Yet despite the tough circumstances the Suns are working in, center Goga Bitadze of the Orlando Magic is a dream trade target that they could actually afford.
Quite why the Magic would want to get rid of Bitadze is another story, because the former Indiana Pacers big man has been fantastic in his role for the Magic this season. With Wendell Carter Jr. missing some time through injury, Bitadze has played his part in the Magic's 18-11 start to the season as arguably the biggest surprise package in the league.
But there is a trade that exists which could suit both the Magic and the Suns, because as long as Carter Jr. is on the Magic's roster, Bitadze is only going to be a bit part player. He is also making just over $2 million this season, and is an unrestricted free agent next summer. This restricts Bitadze's value, and that's not the only reason the Magic might want to move him now.
His value has probably never been higher, but they will have to think about paying both Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero in the coming years. With Carter Jr. under contract for a few more years yet - one one of the best deals in the league - bringing back a second unit big man on anything close to sizeable money would eat into what the Magic are trying to build for the future.
Which is where Yuta Watanabe of the Suns enters the equation. He is also making just over $2 million this season, and has a player option for the same amount next season. Watanabe has struggled with the Suns this season, and at this stage has fallen way down the pecking order when vying for minutes next to Grayson Allen, Eric Gordon, Jordan Goodwin, Nassir Little and even Chimezi Metu.
Really the Suns' second unit is set without Watanabe, and anything he gives them on a nightly basis is a bonus. Quite a fall from grace for a player who was unconcious from beyond the arc for the Brooklyn Nets last season. He could do with a change of scenery, while the Magic need as much shooting as they can around the growing talents of Wagner and Banchero.
Giving up Bitadze would hurt right now, but really he has been found money since they signed him last season. To get a player of any kind of value for what would be a rental for Bitadze would be huge for the Magic, who would get a knockdown shooter in Watanabe for one more season on very little money. It would then be on the Suns to likely watch Bitadze walk for nothing this summer.
Which shouldn't even bother them, because they need all the help they can get at the center position right now, and quickly. Bitadze could do all of what Jusuf Nurkic does offensively in terms of cutting, screening and passing out of the paint. On the defensive end, you could make the argument he is even better than Nurkic.
This Suns group needs a jolt and even if that comes in the form of a rental, they should make the move if it is available. Their season literally depends on making a couple of trades just like this one. They could also easily waive another former Magic player in Bol Bol as well if needed, and in doing so shore up a center rotation that has really struggled this season.