The Phoenix Suns may have lost to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night to snap a seven game win streak, but that is no reason to panic. The organization clearly moving in the right direction as the regular season turns to December.
About the only glaring issue this roster has right now is health, with Devin Booker turning an ankle in the loss to the Raptors. It is unclear if he will miss any time moving forward, but ankle and calf problems have forced him to miss time already this season. Kevin Durant is just back after a pair of games missed through foot soreness, and Bradley Beal has only been seen three times.
With the league allowing players who were signed this offseason to become trade eligible starting on December 15th, the Suns have an opportunity to move on from some of the players signed to minimum deals this summer. The ideal scenario being that they could then go out and get a player who is undervalued elsewhere, but who could play some important minutes for the Suns.
This makes the up and coming Orlando Magic a fascinating group to target. Riding an eight game winning streak - good for second place in the Eastern Conference - it feels like that franchise is back after a long time in the wilderness. As is so often the case, they have a lot of young players as a result of spending a lot of time drafting youngsters while they were out of contention.
Most of these players are either a key part of the Magic's future (Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr.), or else they have too much upside and potential to give up on just yet (Markelle Fultz, Anthony Black). Then there are those who mean more to the Magic than they could realistically get in a trade, such as Jalen Suggs and Jonathan Isaac.
There is one player who the Suns could conceivably steal from the Magic on the cheap though, and that is Chuma Okeke.
At this point, it is hard to see how Okeke is going to carve out a meaningful role for himself in Florida. Now in his fourth season in the league - he failed to take advantage of the period of time when the Magic were not a good team - so as to secure himself a long-term future there. In eight games played so far this season, Okeke is averaging just four minutes on the court.
Which is why the Suns should be in no rush to give up a lot to get him either. Nassir Little is a player who could be moved because the contracts work, but Little has played his part in some of the winning basketball the franchise has been playing recently. Moving him for a player with theoretical upside, as well as a spotty injury record, in Okeke is far from a home run. Especially as the Suns are in win now mode, and don't have time to help Okeke grow.
But if the Magic want to get out from potentially paying Okeke - he is a restricted free agent this summer - then a pair of second round picks might be enough to start a dialogue. More likely to get a deal across the line would be offering up a veteran player who could actually help the young Magic to fill out the end of their bench. Damion Lee and Chimezie Metu might not do it, but the Suns would be getting warmer.
Both Yuta Watanabe and Keita Bates-Diop would both likely be too rich for the Suns to part with, especially with Okeke being such an unknown quantity. But at only 25-years-old and only 150 regular season games total to his name, there isn't much wear on those tyres. As a combo forward, Okeke represents an intriguing option to look at. The kind of player who ordinarily would not be available to the Suns right now.
But with the Magic ahead of schedule with their rebuild and not enough minutes or money to go around, the front office of the Suns might just spy an opportunity here. Even if they let Okeke walk for nothing if he gets an offer from elsewhere in the offseason, he could be the kind of regular season rental who impacts the group. Certainly more than Metu and former teammate Bol Bol have to this point.
If nothing else, he is a competent defender who is shooting 37.5 percent from deep so far this season. A tiny sample size to be sure, but Okeke is able to do a little bit of everything, and would be asked to do very little of the heavy lifting for the Suns. Definitely one for the organization to keep an eye on as players begin to get traded throughout the league in the coming weeks.