Suns miss out as available sharpshooter is traded to the Wizards

The Detroit Pistons are trading a player to the Washington Wizards that the Phoenix Suns could have used for the rest of the season.
Washington Wizards v Phoenix Suns
Washington Wizards v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The NBA got the first of what is sure to be several trades ahead of the deadline on Sunday, with news that the Detriot Pistons and Washington Wizards had done a deal with one another. The breakdown can be found here, although why the Pistons felt the need to trade away a pair of second round picks in the deal is anybody's guess.

As one of the worst teams the league has seen this century, it is clear they are not going anywhere fast. Yet they have continued to insist that they are going to try and win - and in trading for Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala - they may be trying to do just that. Then again, both are expiring contracts so it is more likely they are trying to create cap space for this offseason.

Now that the deal is official though, it means the Phoenix Suns have missed out on a trade target in Muscala who they should have been keeping tabs on.

For all the talk of Tyus Jones and T.J. McConnell this season - and also if this team needs either of those players at all - the difficult part about acquiring either of those players is what it would have cost the Suns. Most likely Grayson Allen, although center Jusuf Nurkic is a player who has rehabbed his value in The Valley some as well.

Allen has been this team's third best player for much of the season, while the big man depth behind Nurkic is poor. So replacing either of them - even if it meant getting a proven point guard in return - would not have been an easy thing to do. Allen is shooting the lights out from deep, while Nurkic offers at least some protection inside on the defensive end.

Complicating matters further is that both of those players make the kind of money that would have meant Allen at least would have to be traded to balance the books. Outside of Nassir Little, the Suns have lots of players like Eric Gordon and Yuta Watanabe on minimum deals this season. Which makes adding a player on a larger salary hard, as Allen is really the only like-for-like swap they have.

Back to Muscala, and he is making $3.5 million in what is the final season of his current deal. That's right around the same figure as Gordon - while others like Watanabe and Keita Bates-Diop are making a little less again. Not enough to complicate matters much, meaning Muscala could have been moved to the Suns without much fuss.

Given the Wizards got both Isaiah Livers and Marvin Bagley III in the deal, the market for Muscala and Gallinari was nothing outside of the fact they're expiring contracts. Livers has some potential to be fair to him, although this could be the last stop before Bagley III is out of the league altogether. Could the Suns have offered Watanabe and a second round pick for Muscala?

This would have been swapping like for like with players, and Watanabe has been perhaps the most underwhelming offseason addition the organization made. The 44.4 percent he shot from deep last season was talked about as a serious weapon - but dispite having more space than ever before to operate - Watanabe has failed to recapture that form from deep.

Watanabe played with Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn Nets last season, which was another reason to go after him. To reunite two players who enjoyed playing with one another. Muscala never suited up next to Durant, but he did play for the Oklahoma City Thunder for four seasons after Durant had bounced for San Francisco and the Golden State Warriors.

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He has also shot a terrible 27.5 percent from deep himself this season - and given that 3-point shooting is the main attribute Muscala brings to a team - it may be that his days of shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc (as he's done three times in his career) are now over. For the price the Pistons got both him and Gallinari though, surely it was worth checking out?

It wouldn't have taken much, with a second round pick and an expiring contract likely to have gotten the job done. Most importantly of all, Muscala would have been a cheap option that could have been added and wouldn't have cost Allen or even Gordon. These are the players the Suns need to be keeping tabs on, because there aren't many and they can be added to this group to help.