The Phoenix Suns currently sit in the cellar of the Western Conference, but a lack of effort on the management’s part can’t be blamed.
The hapless Suns also swung and missed on Rudy Gay. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported in early January that the Suns and Memphis Grizzlies engaged in trade talks regarding Gay. Though a couple weeks later, Gay was dealt to the Toronto Raptors for a bundle of young players.
Now with the trade deadline on Thursday, the Suns have to be wise, but can’t afford to waste energy only to get stood up like they have in their two most recent attempts to acquire an elite player.
There are some obvious guidelines that they will be careful to adhere to for the sake of the future of the organization. For one, rental players (big-name free agents after the season) should be off limits. Of course, this shouldn’t cripple them from pursuing an elite player as long as said player doesn’t part for greener pastures in the offseason.
The daunting question for the Suns is: Would acquiring Smith make up for their failures to acquire Gordon and Gay?
There are many things to like about Smith, most of which come on the defensive end of the floor. According to Synergy Sports, he is the 11th-best isolation defender in the league and 31st-best post-up defender. The Suns would assuredly welcome a legitimate defensive presence, but at what cost?
The Hawks aren’t just going to give Smith away and reports dictate that a young center would get a deal done. The Suns do have the pieces to throw something together. Marcin Gortat would be the presumed centerpiece of a package that would net them Smith, as he is a relatively young center and has one more year on his contract.
However, trading Gortat would significantly weaken a frontcourt that’s already allowing 44.5 points in the paint per game (fourth most in the NBA). Essentially, Phoenix would be losing size in exchange for a player who doesn’t have much of an offensive game, but has the tools to be something great. But that’s what we’ve been saying for years about Smith.
That’s when Suns fans realize (hopefully) that Gordon or Gay would’ve been better fits.
Both Gay and Gordon can create their own shots out of isolations. The Suns, as evidenced by their ranking in that department (25th in the NBA), don’t have that guy. And Smith wouldn’t be the resolution. His shot selection is questionable and his handles aren’t great either.
The Suns could do better, but they will have to be patient. Instead of pursuing Smith now and giving him the maximum contract that he wants, they could wait until the summer and pursue someone like Monta Ellis if he opts out of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. He would solve their isolation issues.
Sure, Suns’ management likely feels a need to do something bold. They’re irrelevant in the Western Conference and dealing for someone like Smith would put them back on the map, but for the wrong reasons. Simply put, patience will suit them better in the long run.
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