The Vertical Insider Bobby Marks, a former longtime assistant general manager with the Nets, breaks down the Phoenix Suns’ situation as the Feb. 18 trade deadline approaches.
HANG UP IF THEY ASK ABOUT …
Booker, 19, has been one of the lone bright spots in a disappointing year for Phoenix. Size, range and upside have Booker among the top rookies in the 2015 class.
The third-year center is still a keeper. The 22-year-old Len, who has seen his minutes decrease this season, still has a huge upside. The decline of Tyson Chandler makes it a no-brainer to hang on to Len for the future.
2016 first-round pick
Even with an abundance of youth, Phoenix is poised to have a top-five draft pick in June. The draft lottery in mid-May will determine this pick, and Phoenix would be wise to keep it in its back pocket until then.
Future Miami first-round picks
Phoenix has the potential to have two unprotected first-round picks from Miami. Although Pat Riley has been the master at building teams, the uncertainty in Miami in 2018 and 2021 is too great to entertain offers for either pick.
WORTH TAKING THE CALL
Tyson Chandler and Markieff Morris
Moving the salary of Tyson Chandler or Markieff Morris could position Phoenix this summer. Wanting to trade either player is one thing. Finding a team to take either is another. Both players come with risk: Chandler and his contract, and Morris with his on- and off-court distractions
The demand for the 33-year-old Chandler is low. Even with a rising cap this summer, Chandler, who is still owed $39 million over the next three years, is not a desirable option for many teams. Factor in a strong free-agent center class, and Chandler’s poor play has many teams wary of acquiring that contract.
Morris, 26, has one of the most cap-friendly contracts in the league at $8 million per year, but he’s been an issue for Phoenix and his production level has significantly decreased.
Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer
Teletovic and Leuer, both free agents-to-be, have been bright spots for Phoenix. The stretch power forwards have each posted career years and have appeal around the league because of their contract statuses and production.
2016 Cleveland first-round pick
In a below-average draft, this pick is projected to be in the late 20s. If the Suns have the opportunity to move either Morris or Chandler, this pick could come into play in any deal.
NO-TRADE CLAUSE OR WITH A RESTRICTION
Leuer, who was acquired from Memphis, cannot be traded back to the Grizzlies during the 2015-16 season.
MOVE THAT PUSHES THE NEEDLE
Unless the Suns want to unload current and future picks, which is not recommended, there really is no move that would help the Suns right now.
Any move for Phoenix should be to help them in the future.
TREASURE CHEST OF PICKS
Phoenix has its own first-round pick, projected to be in the top five.
The Suns also have Cleveland’s first-round pick, projected to be pick No. 28. This was obtained in the Isaiah Thomas trade with Boston. The Celtics had acquired this pick in a trade with Cleveland as the Cavs cleared cap space for LeBron James.
Phoenix could also get 2014 first-round pick Bogdan Bogdanovic this summer. The 6-foot-6 guard is one of Europe’s best shooters.
The Suns own their future first-round picks.
As part of the Goran Dragic trade, Phoenix obtained two first-round picks from Miami. The Heat will send Phoenix a 2018 first-round pick, which is protected from Nos. 1-8. The pick will rollover to 2019 with no protection if Miami is in the top eight of the lottery.
Phoenix also has a 2021 unprotected first from Miami.
AVAILABLE TRADE EXCEPTIONS
POST-TRADE DEADLINE ROSTER MOVEMENT
Phoenix could have two open rosters spots at its disposal. The 10-day contract for Jordan McRae will expire before the All-Star break.
Don’t be surprised if the Suns continue to scour the NBA Development League for help.
SNEAK PEEK TOWARD JULY
The Suns will have a new coach and system in place by the time free agency rolls around. Identifying players who fit the team’s direction will be key for the Suns, who could have roughly $20 million in cap space.
With money tied up in both starting guard spots and Tyson Chandler, Phoenix’s focus should be on a starting small forward and bench support.
All eyes will be on the recovery of starting guard Eric Bledsoe, who continues to rehab from knee surgery.
Although not on the roster, the cap hold for 2014 first-round pick Bogdan Bogdanovic will hit the Suns’ salary cap in July.
Phoenix can release the hold by notifying the NBA of its desire not to sign Bogdanovic. By doing so he would be ineligible to sign for the 2016-17 season. This cccurred with Bogdanovic this past summer when cap space was needed to sign Tyson Chandler and Mirza Teletovic.
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