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Thursday’s NBA trade deadline is fast approaching and you can expect at least a few moves before that date. One team to watch is the Phoenix Suns, who hold a pretty valuable trade commodity in point guard Goran Dragic.
Per ESPN’s Marc Stein, Dragic is in high demand, drawing interest from several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
Speaking specifically to the Lakers and Rockets rumors, Dragic would mean different things to both. In Houston, he would be expected to fuel a title run along with stars Dwight Howard and James Harden. Keeping him beyond this year would be nice, but the focus is clearly on getting to the NBA Finals this year. The Lakers, of course, are in no such position. Adding Dragic only makes sense if they re-sign him and make him part of their backcourt over the long haul.
The point guard is in the midst of a season as one of the team’s best players and that other teams are interested in him is hardly a surprise. He has followed up his career-year last season (when he averaged just over 20 points per game) with another strong effort in 2014-15. Thus far, Dragic is averaging 16.2 points, 4.1 assists, and a career-best 3.6 rebounds per contest. He is also making fewer turnovers (2.2 per game) this year, down from the 2.8 he averaged in each of the previous two seasons.
At 28, Dragic still should have plenty left in the tank. There’s also reason to believe that the Suns could part with him.
The biggest reason is the team’s amount of backcourt depth on the roster. As Stein points out, the team signed Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas last year for a total of $97 million. Bledsoe’s deal was for five years while Thomas was signed for three. Tying up that much money in the backcourt is significant and as a free agent, Dragic will command a decent amount himself. Can Phoenix really afford to pay him what he would command from other teams with so much already committed to other guards?
The Suns’ depth at guard doesn’t end with those three, either. The team also invested a first-round pick in Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis last year. Ennis has played sparingly with the logjam in the backcourt, but he’ll look to get more time beyond this season. Currently, Phoenix also has veteran Gerald Green, who has played significant minutes this year. Overall, losing Dragic would be sustainable for the team.
Dragic is expected to receive plenty of offers over the summer but while the Suns can match a deal, they need to do decide if paying him a boatload of money (the Lakers, reportedly, might offer him approximately $20 million per season) is the way to go. Because of that, Phoenix risks losing him for nothing if he chooses to sign elsewhere.
Much of a decision to trade him will be dependent on the team’s feelings of their chances of re-signing him. While having him around would help their playoff chances (Phoenix is currently eighth place in the Western Conference standings), squeaking into the postseason probably isn’t worth losing him without any return.
Phoenix has a lot of thinking to do … and time is running out.