The Phoenix Suns had their best win of the season on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, in a game where a potential future Suns player was sitting court side to take in the action. The win taking the franchise to 20-18, but still with plenty of work to do this season.
Despite having very little in the way of assets to make a trade ahead of the deadline, there are still ways the organization can make that happen. Depending on your opinion on this roster, a backup point guard could be perceived as a high priority for the Suns. Beyond that. there isn't much in the way of firepower off the bench, other than the 35-year-old Eric Gordon.
But what if the Suns were able to add a player like Andrew Wiggins from the Golden State Warriors to give a real boost to their defensive identity?
The Warriors are a franchise that are in free-fall, sitting 12th in the Western Conference and with serious question marks over the future of Draymond Green with the team. Everybody except Stephen Curry is reportedly available - and while Wiggins certainly falls into that category - Tim Kawakami of The Athletic recently went one further by saying the Warriors will trade Wiggins.
Which is where the Suns enter the conversation. It is rumored that the Warriors are looking for a legitimate seven footer back in any deal for Wiggins, and the Suns have just that in the form of Jusuf Nurkic. A player who has surpassed all expectations so far this season, by staying healthy and starting every game he has played so far for the team.
So good and important to how the Suns play has Nurkic been to this point - there really is a painful lack of skilled size without him on this roster - that the front office would think twice about moving him for Wiggins. It is interesting though, because from a financial standpoint for two organizations with horrible cap sheets, the following deal works.
The Suns could potentially throw a couple of second round picks in there as well, but they're not going to excite the Warriors too much. So we will keep it simple in this scenario. The Warriors get a big man who is under contract for three more years, but who is on a more manageable deal that could be flipped down the road.
That wouldn't be the only reason to do this though, because really the Warriors have to try and win championships as long as Curry is on this roster. In theory both Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody would be the ideal young and athletic wings to compensate for Nurkic's lack of defensive ability. Green too if he is able to come back and contribute for this group.
But failing that, trading all three of those guys would bring back the kind of return that would help the Warriors completely reshape their roster. They could get bigger, younger and still have a veteran in Nurkic manning the paint for their team. They would also get a player in Little who could provide some spark off the bench in a limited role, although he too could be another trade candidate down the road.
Would the Suns really want to do this though? They've just hit the point now where their top three players are healthy, and Nurkic was always envisioned to be the perfect compliment offensively to those guys. Nurkic is certainly that, with his passing, cutting and movement already on display in the win over the Lakers.
On the flip side though, he was benched for the entire fourth-quarter of his side's loss to the L.A. Clippers earlier in the week, as head coach Frank Vogel searched unsuccessfully for a way back into an ugly loss. Looking at the bigger picture, and if Nurkic can't share the court with Ivica Zubac in crunch time, surely he is not going to be out there in a playoff series against an elite center.
Nurkic is not on the level of Nikola Jokic, nobody is, and it is encouraging that he played 28 minutes in the win over the Lakers. A game where Anthony Davis was also out there. But the Suns could cobble together a center rotation of Chimezie Metu, Drew Eubanks and Udoka Azubuike, while Bol Bol would bring the intrigue offensively.
Pairing Wiggins with Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Metu for example would be huge for the team in turning them into a more well-rounded starting five. Throw in Gordon and Grayson Allen - who would be moved to the bench - and they would blow opponents away with their scoring. Have Wiggins shut down the other team's best scorer each night, and they go to another level.