2 potential trade candidates for the Phoenix Suns entering 2021 training camp
The Phoenix Suns were the surprise of the season last year. With one trade for Chris Paul, this young squad came from lottery struggles to playing in the NBA Finals. Of course, the poor form of other title favorites in the West contributed. The Los Angeles teams were not up to their game and had injury issues. Still, that should not undercut the massive job the Suns have done in the last few years. To end that job with a success, there are some potential Suns trade candidates that would fill gaping holes in their roster.
The Suns have a good rotation on most positions. The guards were strengthened by adding Landry Shamet, who will be the bench gunner. Cameron Payne will run the show when Paul is on the bench and continue to show his talent. In the small forward role, Mikal Bridges is the undisputed starter while Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder will be behind him. That leaves the power forward and center positions where the rotation is paper-thin.
Thus, the potential trade candidates for the Suns have to be Wendell Carter Jr and Kevin Love.
Suns Trade Candidates
Wendell Carter Jr
The center role is somewhat overlooked in the modern NBA. Other than Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Rudy Gobert, there are not many other centers that grab headlines. However, there is still a need for a good rotation there, and the Suns do not have it. Deandre Ayton is the undisputed starter and third star, behind Paul and Booker. It is also true that they added JaVale McGee over the summer, but they still need big men, due to the ACL injury of Dario Saric.
Wendell Carter Jr would be the best option, considering the potential he has and the lack of risk in the deal. Carter was involved in the trade that brought Nikola Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls. He is now entering his last contract year and will need to play well to get a newer and better deal. Right now, he is stagnating and putting up the same numbers. However, he did play for two lottery teams.
In the Suns, Carter would not only get a change of scenery but a change of fortune as well. He would be playing for an organized team without internal drama. Also, playing with Chris Paul has done wonders for centers in the past. Paul just seems to bring the best out of them and due to his contract situation, Carter needs it.
The Suns would also only pay him around $7 million for this year and then they would be able to decide whether to keep him. With Carter, they would be getting an option in the center and power forward position, as he is six-foot-ten. He has toughness inside and is a solid finisher around the basket. For around 20 minutes a game shared between the power forward and center slot, Carter would be an absolute steal for the Suns.
Going up 2-0 just to lose 4-2 in the finals against the Milwaukee Bucks gave the Suns something they seriously lack – experience. While Paul, Crowder, and now McGee are all veterans, this is still overwhelmingly a young team. Additionally, before this series, most of these players have not played a minute in the conference finals or even the playoffs. Paul and Crowder never reached the finals before, so it was a valuable experience.
If the Suns want someone to bring that championship-winning experience, other than McGee, they should look no further than Kevin Love. Yes, it is true that Love has had some poor seasons in Cleveland, not really playing that much for the Cavs. He also had injury issues, of course. However, that does not affect the fact that Love played four finals series in a row, from 2015-2018. Due to injury, he missed the 2015 NBA Finals, but he was a very valuable contributor to the Cavs in 2016.
Experience is not the be-all, end-all factor. Obviously, two teams with almost no prior experience in the postseason went to the finals of their respective conferences. However, certain situations are simply begging for some leadership through personal experience. While it is certain that Paul is the vocal leader of that franchise, it was also his first finals minutes he played. Love has been through that multiple times in the past and can relate much better to the situations.
The Suns do not need a lot, since they have a great roster. However, some rotational role players in the frontcourt and experience is what they are bleeding for right now. It is unknown when is Saric returning and while Crowder can play the four, his first replacement would be Frank Kaminsky which is not ideal. With Carter and Love, the Suns are an undisputably better and more balanced team.