The Phoenix Suns can’t waste golden trade deadline opportunity

Mat Ishbia was officially approved as the owner of the Phoenix Suns late Monday night. He takes the reins with a sure-to-be-busy trade deadline rapidly approaching on Thursday. Still, that’s plenty of time for James Jones to work on improving this Suns team, now with no restrictions tied to ownership.

The Suns head into this deadline with a bevy of valuable assets. They own all their future first and second-rounders, which is a rarity among contending teams. They also have several players on very valuable contracts to match any salary they bring in.

Can the Suns turn players and picks into something special?

Both Jae Crowder and Dario Saric are on expiring contracts valued at 10 million and 9 million a year, respectively. Landry Shamet still has several years left on his deal, but his 9 million salary could also be a helpful trade asset. Combined, those three players’ salaries can bring a max contract back to Phoenix. Of course, they don’t equal a max player’s talent, but that’s where the Suns’ picks come in. So often in these trades for stars, especially from teams looking to rebuild, the picks are the real prize here.

The Jrue Holiday trade is a perfect example of this and perhaps a blueprint the Suns should look to replicate this trade deadline. The Bucks gave up George Hill, Eric Bledsoe, and four first-rounders in the four-team trade that netted them Holiday, who was on a 25-million-dollar contract then. The players didn’t add up to Holiday’s talent, but the picks got the deal done. Perhaps, an impact player can be acquired similarly without giving up any of the Suns’ core.

Another previously unknown trade chip surfaced for the Suns a few days ago. Reports were circulating regarding the Suns’ interest in trading for Kyrie Irving. Despite him ultimately landing with the Mavericks, maybe the most interesting note from that trade came from what the Suns possibly offered for him.

Chris Haynes reported that the Suns tried to put together a package centered around Chris Paul and Crowder. If this is true, and it likely is given that the Suns would have to move Paul anyway since he’s also a point guard, it gives the Suns an incredibly valuable trade chip to use. Paul is making 28 million this year and 30 million each next two years. That contract,  plus one of the Suns’ 9 million dollar contracts, can bring in a player worth over 44 million.

Any team acquiring him has a two-fold advantage with his contract. They could look to trade him again this offseason, again using that 30 million to an advantage, or they could outright waive him since his contract is only partially guaranteed after this season.

But CP3’s value goes way beyond his contract. He’s still a good player, as he’s been able to get over his early season slump and injuries in recent weeks. He’s also considered a consummate professional and teammate. All that being said, it is risky to move him from the Suns’ side, but if the opportunity is there to land a better, younger player, they’ll have to consider it heavily.

Due to how connected and loyal to each other the trio of James Jones, Monty Williams, and Paul are, I had always wondered if they’d be objective if an opportunity arose to trade CP3. The fact that they’re even considering it shows how serious Jones is approaching this week, and that’s a good thing for Phoenix.

Devin Booker is likely back on Tuesday, so the surging Suns are about to get even better. They’ve clawed their way out of the play-in and risen in the standings nightly. In a wide-open West and a wide-open NBA, James Jones has a golden opportunity to push them over the top. He can’t waste it.

Valley of the Suns

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