With the NBA trade deadline looming on Thursday, February 19 the Phoenix Suns have decisions to make between now and then.
Phoenix currently holds a 29-25 record and are just a half game above the surging Oklahoma City Thunder for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both healthy the Thunder looked poised to make a run to overtake the Suns and destroy their playoff hopes.
Following a season in which the Suns were not supposed to surpass 20 wins they went on to win 48 games, but just barely missed the playoffs. Phoenix went on to draft T.J. Warren with the 14th overall pick. The rookie has played in just 16 of 54 games this year while averaging 3.6 points in 9.2 minutes.
If Phoenix continues to finish in the middle of the pack, they will not be able to fully rebuild with a young star to build around. Drafting Alex Len with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft has begun to pay off this season, but another draft pick between 10-14 will not help the Suns contend in the Western Conference next season.
November 15, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) dunks to score a basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
With the way the Western Conference teams have performed the past three years or so and then you throw in the amount of great young stars in the conference, it will be in the best interest for the Suns to move some pieces at the trade deadline.
Being able to move some desirable assets in order to set themselves up better for the future could pay dividends as the Suns don’t stand too much of a shot at a championship run with the way the roster stands today. Goran Dragic‘s name has been circulated through trade rumors as of late and the Suns could possibly move him in exchange for a first-round draft pick.
Both the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers have shown immense interest in the 28-year-old Slovenian point guard and it has even been reported that the Lakers are interested in offering Dragic a four-year, $80 million max-deal in the offseason.
Houston is attempting to bring back Dragic after letting him walk in free agency after the 2012 season. The Rockets will likely make a run at Dragic in the offseason, but if Houston was able to acquire Dragic before the deadline they would definitely have much better odds of Dragic exercising his player option and staying with the Rockets for the 2016 season.
With the way the top-tier Western Conference teams are set-up with a dominant point guard and at least one solid post player, the Suns must move one of their three point guards in order to acquire the big man they direly need. Whether that be trading Dragic for a first round pick and drafting a big in the 2015 NBA Draft, or moving him to Detroit for Greg Monroe, the Suns must pull the trigger on something in order to build for the future.
Phoenix has four less wins through 54 games than they did a year ago as the offseason acquisitions has not helped the Suns improve their record. With the Thunder hot on their tracks and a postseason appearance looking bleaker for the Suns as the days go by, it would not surprise me much to see General Manager Ryan McDonough pull the trigger on a deal by Thursday.