Continuity has been key for the Phoenix Suns under general manager James Jones, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t willing to make deals.
It was first to rebuild a team with winning pieces. Then he made a successful trade with Chris Paul to push the Suns into the title race.
Torrey Craig’s mid-season trade last year was aimed at getting the needle to twitch as close to the championship winner as possible, and that type of trade could once again help a side that is 30-9 until ‘now this year. How does he do it this time?
The NBA trade deadline of February 10 is looming, and ESPN’s Bobby Marks released his annual league-wide snapshot on Tuesday with a deal he’d like to see Phoenix do.
It is about acquiring another wing at the expense of the depth of the big man of the Suns:
Trade we would like to see: Dario Saric, Jalen Smith and two second-round picks (2025 and 2026) in Portland for Robert Covington.
Saric has not played this season after sustaining an ACL injury in the NBA Finals last July, while Smith’s recent stint in the rotation due to COVID-19 absences has pushed his stock to the rise.
In order for the Suns to consider this deal, there would be things to consider. On the one hand, is Saric on track to potentially contribute this year? Even though his health is good, does Phoenix consider him consumable with three centers signed now?
The team added Bismack Biyombo last week as insurance behind Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee. Frank Kaminsky’s health as he relies on a stress reaction in his knee is also important when it comes to having a tall man who shoots and plays to complete the center line.
Smith’s rookie contract option not being selected for his third year in 2022-2023 complicates his value – not only because it raises a rare red flag that Phoenix did not want to extend the contract of his choice. lottery, as Marks notes:
A downside to any team acquiring Smith in a trade is that because his option was turned down they would be limited to offering him a maximum of $ 4.7 million in free agency freshman salary this summer, the same amount. than its 2022-2023 option would have been. (The Suns have the same restriction if they choose to keep Smith past the deadline and want to sign him again this summer.)
The Smith and Saric deals are expected to be included in a Covington deal, as he earns $ 13 million in a contract year.
Regarding the Why the Suns might want to add another wing, Covington is either an insurance or an addition for a team that could use as much wing depth as possible to fight a title favorite like the Golden State Warriors.
Covington, 31, has fallen with Portland in the past two years and is shooting 41% overall and 35% from three points. As a defender, he could give Phoenix a longer presence with decent bouncy chops to play with or in place of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder. His presence would also allow the Suns to go further around the perimeter, with Bridges playing two guards if necessary.
More length against the Warriors, who are forcing the changes, or the Milwaukee Bucks, who will put all gravity on the three-point line as their MVP of the Finals flies in the paint, wouldn’t hurt any title contender.
It’s hard to say if the 16-24 Blazers would be interested in such a deal, as they determine if their current trajectory works.
But from the Suns’ point of view, this type of deal should be considered. Jones is asking himself the question: What roster adjustment could this team make to help them beat the best and surpass the top?