The Phoenix Suns have not signed a top-of-the-market free agent in the past decade, and the list is quite short over their full existence as a franchise. This is not breaking news.

Now that the best part of free agency is over - as Ray pointed out yesterday in his "what's left on the market" piece - look for the Suns to turn to the trade market for major long-term and short-term improvements to the roster.

In my opinion, the Suns won't open the season with a player named Morris on the roster, unless Chris Morris comes out of retirement, so something will happen over the next three months.

This article focuses on available power forward replacements.

Trade Options

Ryan Anderson

If you want nothing more than a long-range bomber to stretch the floor from the PF position, like he did in Orlando a few years ago and New Orleans more recently until the surge of the The Brow, then Ryan Anderson is the big man for you. Anderson can drop 5-8 threes in a game without even getting tired. Heck, he could do that in one quarter. He can also rebound respectably (6-8 per 36 minutes, though declining in recent years).

But he's an absolute sloth on pick-and-roll defense, and a turnstile defending in isolation, so you'd really better get a lot of points out of him.

He is eminently available in New Orleans, who just spent hundreds of millions on an extension for The Brow ($140 million) and re-upping Omer Asik ($60 mil) and Alexis Ajinca ($30 million). Anderson was already mostly out of the rotation late last year as The Brow owned nearly all the PF minutes and Anderson is too slow to spot at SF.

Anderson could fit cleanly into the Suns cap without giving up any assets in the deal, and New Orleans just might be okay with that given their other obligations.

David Lee

He's definitely on the market. And if given the minutes, he would provide a steady 18 points and 8-10 rebounds from the power forward position. His ability to score around the basket in a variety of ways would be a welcome addition to the Suns offense.

However, he's a turnstile on defense who gives up as much as he produces, making him a "wash" overall on the floor on most nights. The other problem is contract, a whopping $15.5 million in 2015-16 that's about $7 million more than the Suns have available in cap space. I don't think he's worth any real assets to acquire for one year of playing time.

Yet, if you're looking for a stopgap PF for a year after dumping Markieff Morris somewhere, if you don't have to give up any real value, Lee is a much better option than Kevin Seraphin, for example.

Taj Gibson

The Bulls just drafted Bobby Portis, a power forward by trade and one of the best talents in the second half of the draft's first round. You know I loved the kid, though he didn't rise up the Suns boards as high as I thought he might have.

Add Portis to a power forward rotation of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic - who won't be shackled as much next year with a new coach - and you've got an odd-man-out scenario for Taj Gibson. The Suns have a salary slot open that just barely fits Taj into the fold if the Bulls just want to move him, but the Suns would likely want to send back player(s) - like P.J. Tucker - rather than picks.

Adding Gibson allows the Suns to find a taker for Keef without bringing back a starting caliber PF in the same transaction.

Cody Zeller

In the past week, Charlotte has added Spencer Hawes and Frank Kaminsky, who both play stretch-big positions. The Hornets also have Al Jefferson for one more season and unproven Cody Zeller entering his third season, but nothing on their front line after that.

Rumors had Zeller on the market if they drafted Kaminsky. Zeller came on strong in his second season last year off the bench as a big who can defend pretty well and rebound okay (5.8 in 24 minutes), but has not come anywhere near a stretch player on offense. He scores well at the basket (57% conversion), but is poor outside 3 feet. Could be the scheme, could be Zeller. I do know that coach Hornacek though Zeller has plenty of range in pre-draft workouts in 2013.

Maybe the Suns should explore sending Markieff Morris to Charlotte to give them a proven front-court player who can play either PF or C (in a small lineup). He can play next to Kaminsky, who is much more of a stretch four/five.

In return, the Suns could acquire Cody Zeller, who Hornacek loved in predraft workouts and thought could become a good three-point shooter, and a future draft pick for Keef. Charlotte doesn't have much else the Suns would want at this time, unless you're a Marvin Williams fan (yes, he's still in the league).

Kenneth Faried/Danilo Gallinari

While Denver tried to clear Ty Lawson off the books, they are also open to clearing any number of their players this summer after stumbling twice as hard as anything the Suns have suffered in the past couple of years. They have a lot of nice pieces, but like the Suns none of them are superstars.

Kenneth Faried is an overpaid role player who can gobble up rebounds and dunks in bunches, but doesn't provide much else and is fairly clueless on defense. Add in that he's paid 50% more than Keef, and you might want to hold off on that guy.

However, if Danilo Gallinari could get healthy he just might be a lot of what the Suns need. He's a stretch four, like Anderson, but actually a worse rebounder. The Suns could mask his rebounding issues with Chandler/Len at center if he can stretch the floor on the other end like the Suns offense needs so badly.

Gallinari is only under contract for the 2015-16 season, and could be had if the Suns want to swap a PF (Keef) for him.

Kevin Love

I know, I know, you've heard this one before. But Love remains just about the best fit in the game for the Suns offense, and though he signed a near-max extension last week in Cleveland, his buddy LeBron James is giving the Cavs the cold shoulder until they max out his client Tristan Thompson as well. It just so happens that Thompson plays the same position as Love.

At center, Anderson Varejao is coming back from injury (again) and Timofey Mozgov is under contract as well, so LeBron's client won't get as many minutes next year if he's behind those three in the pecking order.

The Cavs had to extend Love after giving up Andrew Wiggins for him, but likely will look for trade options for Love over the next year. Love cannot be traded until January. If he's not yet fitting into the Cleveland scheme, GM David Griffin just might brush aside his lingering feelings against Phoenix to pick up the phone from Ryan McDonough when it rings.

Summary

Ryan McDonough has executed nearly a dozen trades in the past three summers, half of them in the past six months. He's not afraid to wheel and deal.

In fact, the Suns could execute more than one of these trades to reshape the PF position for 2015-16 without handicapping their future if they are ready to move on entirely from the Morris twins.

The only superstar in the bunch is Kevin Love, and even he isn't necessarily a messiah. In fact, he most certainly isn't. But that's the market out there.

In acquiring Tyson Chandler, the Suns signaled they are tired of losing and know that the team is just too talented as it is to "tank" properly. This Suns franchise doesn't like the idea of tanking anyway, so don't be surprised when they still make moves to try to make the playoffs.

Most of these trades could help in that regard.

There are no free agents remaining who can even approach the impact that a Suns' signing of LaMarcus Aldridge would have made in Phoenix.

      
 
 

The Suns made a commendable push to sign prized free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, but finished as runners up to the Spurs. Sigh. What's next for the Suns roster this summer?

It's possible the Suns could take the court this upcoming season with the roster as it is now, and the depth chart would look something like this:

PG: Bledsoe/Knight/McNeal

SG: Knight/Goodwin/Booker

SF: Tucker/Warren

PF: Keef/Leuer

C: Len/Chandler

I see a need for another shooter and another PF, and that's even if they can smooth things over with Keef after the Mook trade, and attempts to sign his replacement. If Keef is shipped out, there will be no real PFs on the roster unless his trade returns one, or you count end of bench Jon Leuer as a rotation player. The Suns have about $8M in cap space cleared from the trade of Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger. Let's examine what might come next.

What will become of Keef?

Still under contract for the next four seasons at a reasonable $8M/year, the status of Markieff Morris grew more complicated over the last few days. He saw the Suns dump his twin brother, despite the twins' obviously tight bond and repeated statements they wanted to play together. Then he saw the team (and city) make a hard charge toward signing his replacement.

Remember this quote from then-President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby regarding the Goran Dragic situation?

"If some of those moves ruffle Goran's feathers, so be it," Babby said.

Keef's feathers are duly ruffled. According to one man's allegation, the result of Keef's hurt feelings sent him to the ER, so this is not a small consideration. When you look at Morris' overall body of work with his temper problems on the court, it seems safe to assume he won't handle these slights well.

None of this necessarily matters because Keef lacks leverage in the situation, as he's under contract with the Suns for four more seasons. If he wants to throw a pity party, or act in a recalcitrant manner, he can do that. But if he wants to play NBA basketball, it will be for the Suns or whatever team they may choose to trade him to. They hold all the cards here.

Still, it usually doesn't make sense to keep a malcontent around, and the abrupt trading of Marcus demonstrates that the organization might have reached the end of their patience in dealing with the twins' antics. It would likely take a fair amount of fence-mending to bring Keef back next season, and it might be best for all involved to go their separate ways.

Remaining free agent and trade options

Whether Keef stays or goes, the Suns still have a hole to fill at PF, needing at least a backup should Keef stay. Here are some of the remaining options:

David Lee

If you need to be reminded of how good a value Keef's contract is, look no further than Lee's $15.5M price tag. A roughly equivalent player to Keef, Lee rebounds better, scores about the same, and isn't as good on the defensive end. His reputation took a bit of a hit when the Warriors improved after replacing him with Draymond Green in their starting lineup, but the 32 year old Lee's still a productive player when given minutes.

The Warriors are eager to dump his bloated salary, so the Suns could secure an asset such as a draft pick or picks in return, but would also have to send some salary back to Golden State. Lee's overpaid, though the good news is the contract expires after this season. He's also known as a high character individual and great teammate, which would certainly be welcome for a Suns team trying to improve chemistry.

David West

Another player known for strong character and professionalism but also growing long in the tooth, 34 year old West has already entertained suitors on the free agent market. One of those teams is the Spurs, and if they get him in addition to Aldridge, well, that would just be a kick in the crotch.

West is a rock solid player: strong defender, generally efficient scorer, and competent rebounder, though he's not the same player who made a couple of All-Star games with New Orleans in the late '00s. He'd look very nice on the Suns, but they haven't even been mentioned as a team he's considering. While I hate to say it, he profiles as the type of player who goes to San Antonio late in his career and gets a ring out of the deal. Damn them.

Brandon Bass

Bass is another dependable role player who won't wow anybody, but provides value all the same. He's a decent defender who has posted "meaty part of the bell curve" stats of 14.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per 36 minutes over his career. Not a three point shooter, Bass makes his living in the mid-range, where he shot an impressive 45.5% from 16 feet out to the arc last season.

He's started most of the last two years for the Celtics, making $6+M/year. I'd assume he'll command a salary in that ballpark for his next contract, depending upon whether teams view him as a starter or backup.

Amar'e Stoudemire

You knew this was coming, right? Could Amar'e make a Dan Majerle-like late career return to the Valley of the Sun? Beyond the sentimental reasons (which are, of course, ultimately irrelevant), there are valid basketball reasons to bring Amar'e back to the Suns.

While his defense is as bad as ever, and his rebounding as mediocre as ever, the dude can still score efficiently. In his short stint with the Mavs last season, he shot 58% from the field in scoring 23.5 points/36 minutes, good for a sterling 22.3 PER and 117 O-Rating. Amar'e will turn 33 this season, and wasn't able to play a full 82 games in any of his Knicks seasons, but could benefit from the Suns vaunted training staff, as he did earlier in his career.

Annual salary and length of contract would obviously be key here. Amar'e has made $166M so far in his NBA career, so one would hope he doesn't need to make decisions based on financial considerations anymore. If the Suns could get him for something like 2 years/$8-10M total, he might provide the perfect scoring pop off the bench.

Charlie Villanueva

The one player on this list who is a true stretch big, Villanueva shot a respectable 38% from 3 last season as sort of a bigger, taller version of Anthony Tolliver. At this point in his career, the 30 year old Villanueva has proven to be no more than a specialist and certainly not a viable starter. But there's value in a 6'11" player who can spot up at the arc and nail 3s at a decent rate, especially at the bargain basement salary of $1.3M the Mavs paid him last year.

If the Suns need a backup PF and a shooter, Villanueva is both. And much like the Tolliver signing a year ago, it won't harm anything if he washes out. If it's a low risk/low reward move you're looking for, Villanueva's your man.

What say you, Suns fans? Keep Keef? Don't keep Keef? Sign one of these other guys?

Well, the chase is finally over. On Saturday, it was announced that LaMarcus Aldridge would be signing a 4-year, $80 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs, thus putting an end to the question of...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The Suns have added a downtown banner and other local sports stars are taking to Twitter to recruiting LaMarcus Aldridge.

      
 
 

Page 4 of 2041

4

Web Links

Sponsored Ads