Trade Deadline Marathon: Crazy Edition
The Suns on-the-court product is as promising as ever, but behind the scenes, trouble looms in Phoenix. A dispute over arena funding has team owner Robert Sarver threatening to move the team to Seattle or Las Vegas. The Suns’ bright future may come to light outside of Arizona.
Fan attendance is way down in Phoenix, further complicating this precarious situation. Perhaps the front office doesn’t have time to nurture and grow its young core. Instead, the Suns ought to swing for the fences and surrounding the team’s best player Devin Booker with All-Star talent.
Booker just inked a five-year, $158 million contract extension this summer. He’s a bonafide stud, no doubt, but far too young to carry this team deep into the postseason. He needs established running mates for the Suns to vault back into contention.
Blake Griffin and John Wall both own monster contracts themselves. But they’re also undeniably great players, even if they would both benefit from a change of scenery. A Booker, Griffin, Wall would be an immense nucleus for the Suns to build around, and one that may help spur hope and reconciliation in Phoenix.
This Big Three would also be wildly expensive. In the 2021-22 season, they alone would make a combined $114 million dollars. That said, the salary cap is set to continue to rise, and the luxury tax threshold could reach $150 million in the next three years. Booker, Griffin, and Wall wouldn’t be cheap, but this core would not be prohibitively expensive. If this move revitalizes basketball in Phoenix, it would be worth the tight margins.
The Pistons and Wizards are in a different position. Neither have the same pressing issues as the Suns, but instead both need a major shake-up. By trading away their respective star players and the financial obligations they represent, Washington and Detroit could either pivot or completely bottom out.
Phoenix has enough young talent that it could bring in elite talent like Griffin and Wall by offering promising assets in return. The above trade is an interesting launch point, but would require more roster tinkering for the Wiz and the Pistons. All the same, it seems that the Suns have the ammo to pull off a few blockbuster deals.
Unfortunately for the Suns, Phoenix won’t be a top destination during this summer’s loaded free agency period. And despite playing in the Western Conference, it seems unlikely the Suns can compete with the Cavaliers, the Knicks, and the Bulls for the NBA’s worst record. As such, the team may be on the outside of the Zion Williamson sweepstakes already. Taking on established talent is the right move here.
In late January Phoenix city council will vote on a deal that would keep the Suns in Arizona through 2037. Such a resolution would be the perfect time to reaffirm the team’s exciting youth movement. Should the deal fall through, however, management may need fireworks to keep the fans happy and engaged.