Before The Deadline:
“Uneventful” wasn’t a word Phoenix Suns fans were expecting to use to describe their NBA trade deadline. In fact, leading up to Feb. 20, it felt like the Suns were going to be one of the league’s most active teams. The surprise team of the year had stayed afloat in the Western Conference standings despite a knee injury to Eric Bledsoe that could’ve sunk the Suns’ playoff hopes altogether. Instead of falling apart from that potential killer, Goran Dragic picked up the slack and the Suns worked their way back to sixth in the standings after a brief adjustment period.
But the fact remained that with or without Bledsoe, the upstart Suns were still one piece away from being considered a real player on the Western Conference playoff chessboard. A healthy Bledsoe could elevate Phoenix to an even more dangerous level on the Upset Alert Odometer, especially if the Suns faced the struggling Portland Trail Blazers, but expecting anything more substantial than a jubilant first-round upset seemed unrealistic.
With as many as four draft picks and the $14 million expiring contract of Emeka Okafor, the Suns had the luxury of being major buyers approaching the deadline. General manager Ryan McDonough made it known back in December Phoenix would be open to trading highly coveted 2014 draft picks to bring in a star player and help the Suns make a playoff run. So when talks about trading for Pau Gasol and Zach Randolph cropped up weeks before the deadline, it seemed all but assured Phoenix would be making a deal.