Has any team been more surprising or just downright inspiring this season than the pleasantly resurgent Phoenix Suns? Many observers (including me) had assumed they were going to be the ultimate ill-fitting pushover brigade helmed by a rookie coach in over his head.
But like all the best stories, the players set fire to the script and with a mixture of chemistry, sweet shooting big-men, and the “Slash Brother” tandem of Goran Dragic and the (now injured) Eric Bledsoe, they’ve rightfully earned the opportunity to fight it out with Golden State, Dallas, Memphis, and perhaps even Minnesota and Denver for a playoff spot in the untamed Wild Western Conference.
They are shedding the ghost of Steve Nash and sweeping last season’s death march under the rug with each successive impressive outing. With a handful of craftily acquired first-round picks and the expiring contract (a hefty $14.5 million) of Dick Vitale’s former favorite big man, the body of Emeka Okafor, the Suns are in a position to strengthen their roster for a playoff run without giving up the guys who pushed them to this point.
A variety of names have been attached to the Suns in recent weeks. Pau Gasol of course, who is in obvious decline but might find himself rejuvenated for a last minute playoff push. This deal has reportedly hit a wall however, and at the moment seems unlikely (the caveat being that literally everything is subject to change as the madness fast approaches).
FanSided reported that there is a possible three-team deal brewing that would send combo guard pariah Ben Gordon to Phoenix, a deal that also speculates Evan Turner being shipped off to Charlotte. Does Gordon have anything left in the tank? Would he just be chilling in street clothes for his tenure in Phoenix? He’s got the redemption narrative and has never been scared to shoot and he’s now a crotchety old man in NBA years. Maybe the leadership in Phoenix thinks he’s the answer. That seems eminently debatable. In all likelihood, this is typical trade deadline smoke and mirrors.
Stars currently in the doldrums with their current teams like Josh Smith could likely be had for the right package, or the guys who are consistently trade bait but have yet to be traded once (Thaddeus Young)…And yet, I think it would behoove the Suns for this year and resist the urge to make a trade just for the sake of a trade. One of Josh Smith or Pau Gasol or Thaddeus Young (bless his heart) are not going to elevate Phoenix to contender status. Other names that have been bounced around? Carlos Boozer, Omer Asik, even Jeff Green…will any of these guys improve the team enough to sacrifice the assets so carefully gathered?
The Suns have the ability to make a move. They have talent, assets, and a reputation as a sterling franchise big names have thrived in the past. It’s an attractive destination, though it doesn’t have the criminally outsized pull of New York or Los Angeles. The feeling I’ve gotten from Suns bloggers and fans is that they’d rather swing for the fences than make a move just to make a move. On the flip side, the West’s 9th best team will likely lose out on the playoffs by a game or two. Reinforcements that can produce aren’t to be looked upon with scorn, even if they don’t happen to be named Kevin Love.
How about Arron Afflalo (would form great three man guard rotation with Dragic and Bledsoe) and Jason Maxiell (6 fouls and some energy) for Emeka Oakfor and a pick?
Or finally end this nightmare of Philadelphia shopping all its players and make this deal: Spencer Hawes (one year left) and Thad Young for Oakfor and a pick?
What would you guys do if you were the Phoenix Suns braintrust?