Ever since Mat Ishbia took over as owner of the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 7, 2023, the team has been ultra-aggressive around the trade deadline and in free agency.
Now, with the Suns currently sitting at 20-18 despite having a team that Ishbia himself said on media day is championship caliber, Phoenix could very well likely make another splash on the market with the NBA trade deadline approaching on Feb. 8.
Ishbia’s tenure has been highlighted by the Suns trading for Kevin Durant the day after he took over and trading a package centered around Chris Paul for a package centered around Bradley Beal last June.
Due to the limited money and the Suns being $22 million over the luxury tax, it is highly unlikely the Suns can make this big of a move at this season’s trade deadline.
According to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes, the Suns are not looking for a point guard in the market, despite not having a true 1-guard on their roster and as many fans have suggested. Instead, they are looking for an athletic wing.
What the Suns Could Trade
There are several athletic wings that could fit what the Phoenix Suns are looking for. However, it will be tough to get one worth a lot of money because of the limited contracts the Suns have.
The Suns are searching the market for an athletic wing, per @ChrisBHaynes
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 12, 2024
Outside of the team’s Big 3, who would be assumed to be untouchable, only Jusuf Nurkić, Grayson Allen and Nassir Little are the only players on the roster not on veteran minimum contracts. The Suns received all three of these players in the Deandre Ayton trade on Sept. 27.
Nurkić is under contract until the 2025-26 season on a 4-year, $70 million deal. He is making $16.875 million this 2023-24 season. Nurkić has recently said he wants to be with the Phoenix Suns until his career is over. The Suns are a +52 in only 113 minutes in lineups featuring the Big 3 and Nurkić this season.
Even though he is having a breakout year, Allen might be the most desirable piece the Suns have. He is in the last year of a two-year, $18.7 million deal and his cap hit for this year is $8.925 million. Allen is currently averaging 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 49.5% on field goals and 46.2% on three-point attempts in 33 minutes per game. Allen has started all 33 games he has played in and is the clear-cut choice for the team’s fifth starter at this moment.
Little could also be an appealing piece in a trade, given his age, even though he has fallen out of the Suns’ rotation. Little signed a four-year, $28 million contract extension with the Blazers in October of 2022, which kicked in this season. He is making $6.25 million in the 2023-24 season with the figure increasing by $500,000 every year.
“We’re not going to be perfect. I’m not going to be perfect. As long as the intention is to win, I’m cool with it. I’m trying to be Phoenix Suns for the rest of my life. I’m not tripping about one game.”
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) January 11, 2024
Outside of these three players, the Suns also have four trade exceptions: a $6.5 million trade exception (from the Cam Payne trade), a $5 million trade exception (Dario Saric trade), a $1.8 million trade exception (Isaiah Todd trade) and a $1.1 million trade exception (Toumani Camara trade). These trade exceptions can be used to match a salary of an incoming player, but cannot be packaged together. They can be attached to a trade including a player or draft capital.
Phoenix also has a total of five second round picks to feature in trades.
The Suns could also package a lot of their veteran minimum players together to make a deal work. We will have to wait and see what the team decides to do.