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As has been rumored for weeks in real life, my "mock" front office saw the logic in making a trade Marcin Gortat to the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for Joel Freeland (2 yrs, $3 mill per year) and the #10 overall pick.

SB Nation Mock Draft

Suns acquire #10, draft Gobert


Trading Gortat

It's time to get the most possible for Gortat, and the Trailblazers obliged with giving back the #10 pick. While the Blazers need to get "older" with a veteran center to play next to LaMarcus Aldridge, the Suns need to get a lot younger.

The trade, as rumored in real life and executed in this mock draft, cannot be completed until the new league year starts. But that didn't stop us, and it doesn't often stop real teams either. (though that might have allowed GS to wiggle out of the Amare trade in 2009, because it wasn't finalized on draft night, but that's just a rumor)

Really, the Suns need to get younger and Marcin Gortat, who will be 30 and playing for another team this time next year, is one of their best assets. Getting a 2013 lottery pick - #10 even! - is a heckuva deal.

Rudy Gobert

At the time of the mock draft (two weeks ago today), 21-year old Rudy Gobert was ranked on most sites the best available pure center after Nerlens Noel and Alex Len. With those two off the board, it was still a toss up between Gobert, Cody Zeller (20) and Steven Adams (19) for me.

My fellow front office folks were also torn between the three, and even Mason Plumlee, but nbadraftinsider,com's Managing Editor and the only real live NBA scout in our "mock" front office Kris Habbas gave a great scouting report on Gobert to sell us all on him.

Obviously there is a chance for him to not pan out, but in all honestly, what is the difference between Gobert and Noel? They are both quality defensive prospects with one main skill to hang their hat on; Shot-Blocking.

Noel is a better overall athlete, but Gobert is further along physically and has the tools to be a great defender. He is efficient on offense and has to improved year-by-year on that end showing potential of being a 10-10-3 type player.

Can he be a bust? Absolutely, but so can Noel, Len, Zeller, Adams, and the other high profile big men. That is the risk with drafting a big.

Who should they target at 10? If you have Oladipo already and are losing Gortat the easiest thing to do is draft a five. Gobert is the highest rated five to me left. If you are not in love with Gobert then I shy away from the position altogether because Olynyk and Zeller have higher bust potential than Gobert.

Well, I really wanted a five and so Gobert was the pick. On the actual draft night, the Suns' pick might be different. Gobert came to Phoenix weeks ago - at the start of the workout season - while Steven Adams came in at the end, just a few days ago. It's possible they like Adams more.

The wildcard here is Mason Plumlee, older than the others but extremely athletic. If the Suns see too much bust potential in Gobert and Adams, then maybe they go with a more sure thing in Mason Plumlee from Duke who will already be 23 or 24 next season as a rookie. Lower ceiling, but higher floor.

Why not Cody Zeller? The mock front office thinks he will be a 4 in the NBA, not a 5. The Suns have a few guys who play the 4, and are bringing back Channing Frye next year too. They really need a 5.

But then again, maybe Zeller has the highest ceiling overall and so maybe he's the better pick.

But I took Gobert. Deal with it.

What of the other lottery pick trades?

None of the others worked out. We decided that none of the trade offers from Detroit (8), Minnesota (9) and OKC (12) gave the Suns enough of a return. Better to hold onto Dudley than to take on salary.

If Dudley goes, then salary needs to be cleared AND the Suns need to get a young prospect as well.

What's next?

With Victor Oladipo and Rudy Gobert officially "mock" Phoenix Suns, that is not all. Oh no, that is not all.

The Suns still hold a lot of cards - Dudley, young players Morris, Morris and Marshall, and the #30 overall.

Surprisingly to some Suns fans, these were somewhat coveted assets to teams outside the top 10.

Since Dudley was a #21 pick himself and is not a true NBA starter on a championship team (as Eric from canishoopus.com said: "we missed the part where he is a multi-time All Star"), maybe the better deals are a few picks away.

I spent the next few days of our Mock Draft negotiating for more youth - I wanted at least two new young players with the second half of the first round.

The more youth, the better.

Rogers

Really good assistants are hard to find, yet almost no one outside of NBA coaching and front office circles even knows who they are.

I had never heard of Roy Rogers before two weeks ago, even forgetting that he was a marginal NBA player at one point. Since retiring, Rogers has been an assistant for all of five seasons with three different teams.

He spent last year working with Andre Drummond in Detroit, and two years before that working with Brook Lopez in New Jersey. His total years on an NBA bench in an assistant role: five seasons.

Yet, he's been coveted by many teams this offseason while head coaches are installing new staffs all over the country.

First, he was destined for Sacramento. Was even hint-introduced by new coach Mike Malone after he assisted Malone in a pre-draft workout.

Then, he was off to Phoenix to work with Jeff Hornacek. Word leaked a week ago, though not confirmed by anyone in the Suns organization. Only that there were finalists and nothing would be announced until the ink was dry on contracts.

Then last night, word leaked that Rogers was waffling again. This time to possibly reunite with his old head coach, Lawrence Frank, back in New Jersey to work for Jason Kidd.

At that point, the Suns decided they had enough.

Per Lon Babby to Paul Coro of azcentral.com/sports:

"We couldn't finalize a deal with Roy Rogers," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. "We have withdrawn our offer. As the contract process unfolded, we have decided that it's best for the Suns to look elsewhere. Financial considerations were not a factor."

The Suns will now need to hire two assistants to join Jerry Sichting and Jeff Hornacek on the Suns' sidelines.

Rogers

Really good assistants are hard to find, yet almost no one outside of NBA coaching and front office circles even knows who they are.

I had never heard of Roy Rogers before two weeks ago, even forgetting that he was a marginal NBA player at one point. Since retiring, Rogers has been an assistant for all of five seasons with three different teams.

He spent last year working with Andre Drummond in Detroit, and two years before that working with Brook Lopez in New Jersey. His total years on an NBA bench in an assistant role: five seasons.

Yet, he's been coveted by many teams this offseason while head coaches are installing new staffs all over the country.

First, he was destined for Sacramento. Was even hint-introduced by new coach Mike Malone after he assisted Malone in a pre-draft workout.

Then, he was off to Phoenix to work with Jeff Hornacek. Word leaked a week ago, though not confirmed by anyone in the Suns organization. Only that there were finalists and nothing would be announced until the ink was dry on contracts.

Then last night, word leaked that Rogers was waffling again. This time to possibly reunite with his old head coach, Lawrence Frank, back in New Jersey to work for Jason Kidd.

At that point, the Suns decided they had enough.

Per Lon Babby to Paul Coro of azcentral.com/sports:

"We couldn't finalize a deal with Roy Rogers," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. "We have withdrawn our offer. As the contract process unfolded, we have decided that it's best for the Suns to look elsewhere. Financial considerations were not a factor."

The Suns will now need to hire two assistants to join Jerry Sichting and Jeff Hornacek on the Suns' sidelines.

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Many people believe the Phoenix Suns have the worst collection of talent in the NBA. And with only Kendall Marshall and (now) #5 overall pick Victor Oladipo under 24 years old when next season starts, the potential development of the team to elite status as currently constructed is next to nil.

The league's second-oldest lottery team (Dallas was older) returns as many as 11 guaranteed contracts from last season's worst-in-the-West squad (if you count Shannon Brown and P.J. Tucker). After Marshall and Oladipo, only Michael Beasley, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are as young as 24. The rest of the squad is older than that.

The Plan

That's why, as the mock-Suns acting General Manager, I decided to shake up the roster as much as possible in the 2013 NBA Draft. Frankly, while the Draft is considered "weak", the top 10-15 players are still more talented and possess brighter futures than most anyone on the Suns' current roster.

Once the mock draft rules were in place and the doors opened for business, I worked feverishly to acquire up to two more lottery picks to send out there with Victor Oladipo.

I wanted a pivot man AND another shooter/scorer before the 13th pick was announced. And I wanted to use two of the Suns best players, Jared Dudley (28 next season) and Marcin Gortat (29 next season), as the bait.

My thinking was that Dudley and Gortat couldn't help the team win more than 25 games, so how much worse could it get if they were each replaced with one or more younger players? Plus, getting younger would help the Suns acquire a good player or two in the much stronger 2014 draft as well.

There is no quick fix in the NBA, so it's completely unrealistic to imagine the Suns being completely made over in one summer AND still have Gortat and Dudley in the rotation. With Gortat expiring in a year, potentially leaving with no compensation whatsoever, and Dudley at the peak of his trade value, it was time to strike.

Marcin Gortat

As soon as the bell sounded, the Portland mock-GM emailed me the offer everyone's been talking about on the interwebs. It's an offer I would not be surprised to see in real life too: Marcin Gortat for the #10 and Joel Freeland.

I wanted to use this #10 pick on the next best available pure center on the board - the one with the highest upside regardless of the time it would take to develop him.

For a while, I tried to replace Freeland with Myers Leonard, but even I was lukewarm on that given that the center the Suns would draft at 10 would likely be better than Leonard, while Leonard might stunt our rookie's growth. It's not really a good idea to have two guys who need the same amount of development playing the same exact position. Plus, the Suns would need a veteran stop-gap center to play minutes too, leaving either Leonard or the rookie on the end of the bench. Other than Leonard, Portland didn't have much to offer in place of Freeland, since half their roster would be free agents in a matter of days.

We spit-shook on the trade, giving each other an out: as long as Portland didn't use the #10 in a trade to move up, and as long as the Suns hadn't found a better trade for Gortat and as long as the Suns saw someone on the draft board they liked.

Before the Suns took Oladipo at 5, I engaged OKC on Gortat for #12. They needed an upgrade on Kendrick Perkins, and the Suns had a big hole at shooting guard. We were both willing to discuss Gortat for Perkins and the #12, straight up. The Suns would be eating about $12 million in salary over two years, so I had to decide if the #12 was worth that much sunk cost.

But then I got the Portland offer - a better pick and lesser salary in return for Gortat. In order to add Jeremy Lamb to the pot, we briefly discussed adding Lamb and Dudley to the trade.

That would have returned Jeremy Lamb, #12 pick and a $10 million salary hit for two seasons in exchange for Gortat and Dudley.

Tick tock. Teams on the clock. Portland offer (#10 and Joel Freeland) in the pocket. With the #10 or #12, I would want to get the best remaining center on the board.

Jared Dudley

Let's see what I can get for Dudley on his own. If I could trade Dudley for something equivalent to, or better than, Jeremy Lamb then I could tell OKC to take a hike. I really didn't want to eat Perkins 2-yr, $20 million contract.

I tried to engage Sacramento at #7 for Dudley, but got a quick "no thanks". I was surprised, considering Sacramento really needed a solid veteran like Dudley to supplement an already-young core, but wasn't going to squeeze too hard trying to get blood from a stone. Moving on.

Two hot options for Dudley were #8 (Detroit) and #9 (Minnesota). At 8 or 9, we could grab C.J. McCollum to play combo guard between Oladipo and Dragic. Hornacek loved his three-guard lineup in the late 80s with the Suns, and MCollum's presence would provide the Suns the secondary scorer they so badly need while allowing Oladipo to play the Tucker/Sefolosha role as defender and spot-up shooter for kick-outs.

Detroit needed a steady presence for their young squad, so Dudley was a draw for them. They also were struggling with too many combo guards and not enough pure playmaking to take advantage of their big men, so Kendall Marshall was an interesting option for them too.

As it stood going into their pick, Detroit was holding firm wanting too much back for the #9 and a combo guard, who would have just duplicated McCollum and potentially stunted his growth. The other shooting guards in the draft (KCP, Shabazz) besides McCollum would have stunted Oladipo's growth, in my opinion. We needed a playmaking combo guard who could spell Dragic and provide scoring in the second unit while playing alongside Oladipo.

Minnesota was another option for the Suns with the #9 pick in exchange for Dudley. But Minnesota played hard ball, wanting a lopsided trade in their favor that made it unpalatable. They wanted the Suns to take back a long-term contract, plus too many draft considerations, really diluting the value of the #9 pick. Plus, I wanted McCollum at that pick.

Would either MInnesota or Detroit cave, in time for the Suns to end up with McCollum for Dudley?

Would the Suns take Portland's offer of #10 and Freeland for Gortat? Or would we find a better deal?

Tick. Tock. #7 on the clock. #8 through #12 coming up soon.

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It sounds perfectly easy, or lazy, or both, for the Phoenix Suns to have selected Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo in the SB Nation Mock Draft after Noel, McLemore, Porter and Len had been taken 1-4. Oladipo was (and is) clearly one of the five best talents in the 2013 NBA Draft.

But nothing is that easy, nor should it be.

We kicked off our Mock Draft on a Sunday night, with Cleveland on the clock. Each pick would be given 24 hours maximum so teams could consider trades and consult with their "front offices."

While waiting for the Suns pick at No. 5, I received a couple of offers to trade down but declined them immediately. The Suns needed the best possible talent they could acquire, and trading down from a top-5 pick wasn't going to get it done.

I went into the draft determined to get the Suns a wing player. Specifically, I wanted either Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo with the first Suns pick. My assumption was that C Nerlens Noel (or Alex Len) was going Np. 1 to Cleveland and that SF Otto Porter was going No. 3 to Washington. Neither team needed a two-guard, since they'd just drafted two-guards a year ago at 3rd and 4th overall.

That left two slots (No. 2 Orlando, No. 4 Charlotte) ahead of the Suns into which those two favorites could easily slip and be gone by the time the Suns were on the clock.

So I got scrambling. I am not one to sit idly by with crossed fingers.

I explored trading up from No. 5. I first talked with Orlando for the No. 2 pick, but Orlando wanted me to take back long-term salary just for the right to jump three spots. I thought about it and posed the question to the "front office." Did we really think buying a guarantee of McLemore or Oladipo was worth an additional several million in salary for years (the cost of a higher pick, plus the cost of a veteran)? One of them might fall to us anyway.

Barring trades, Charlotte (No. 4) was the wild card. Orlando would take one of Oladipo or McLemore. As mentioned before, Cleveland and Washington were not a threat. But what about Charlotte? Would they take a wing, or a big (Bennett or Len)?

Considering that Oladipo/McLemore would just duplicate Charlotte's restricted free agent Gerald Henderson, I concluded that Charlotte was better off taking a big. The Bobcats had to get better in this draft, and the only way to do that was to add a big and re-sign Henderson.

Another consideration was whether Cleveland (No. 1), Washington (No. 3) or Charlotte would trade out to a team that really needed a wing, resulting in both McLemore and Oladipo being taken before the Suns pick.

That was always a possibility, but I gave the other GMs the same logic I used for myself - none of them would trade out of the top 5 this season. If anything, they'd only jockey amongst themselves for positioning. The lower teams woudn't offer enough talent to justify dropping into the lower lotto picks.

So, we declined the Orlando offer and stuck to our guns. Oladipo or McLemore would drop. And if they didn't, I liked C Alex Len, PF Anthony Bennett and SG C.J. McCollum enough to be the consolation prize. I'd try to trade down a couple spots if it got me another asset.

Ultimately, the draft went clean. No trades. Cleveland, Orlando and Washington all drafted according to form. When Charlotte took Len, Victor Oladipo was all ours.

Now, the fun starts.

It's time to pair Oladipo with another lottery pick or two...

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