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If you look at it logically, other than another team acquiring one of our players out of shear love for their game, most moves at the deadline are either done for cap reasons or to deal with the fact that a player will be nearing the end of their deal and the team might lose them for nothing. For the Suns, I do not see them being a player for the latter case, as we have no assets to deliver that are not in the same situation [Gortat will be in that situation next year and the only other real assets we have are Dragic and Dudley – which we aren’t giving away].

In terms of teams selling off assets to a team to absorb a bad contract, we sit pretty. We have cap space and there are eleven teams in luxury tax territory right now. The problem we have is that there are very few deals that can be done with those teams that make any sense.

GM's are realizing that giving up future assets [like a 1st rounder] just to clear salary this year only, is foolish. You are better off being patient and letting the guy end his deal before you go throwing valuable assets to clear him off the books. Not saying that the right deal might not come around, but those deals don't seem to be out there. It takes a team on the precipice of championship competitiveness that is clearly missing a piece and being way over the tax, and us having that missing piece.

Who would that be?

Below is a breakdown of each of the eleven teams that are currently over the Tax Threshhold [$70.3 M]. The most likely scenario is finding a contending team who is missing a piece, that also has a contract they can send.

LAL [$29.7 tax hit this year]:

The Lakers have already sent us all they had, so it is doubtful we can do another deal with them. They are also willing to pay tax, so that makes it even less likely they are motivated to do a deal. Finally, the only three players they can deal that affect the cap enough are Nash, Gasol and Artest. Forget them.

BRO [$17.3]:

The Nets could use Jared Dudley, but at what cost would they be willing to deal? They have no significant expiring deals, so a trade with them requires taking on salary past this summer. Additionally, the most likely trade pieces the Nets would want to unload would be Humphries [$12M this year, $12M next], Wallace [9.6, 10.1, 10.1, 10.1]and Teletovic [3.0, 3.2, 3.3]. Taking on any of those salaries AND giving up Dudley would require obtaining something of value that the Nets do not have. Taking on just one of those salaries alone would require assets they don’t have, because Marshon Brooks and any of their picks just doesn’t cut it.

ORL [$14.7]

They suck, so anything they do would be to dump salary and hope to obtain talent and picks. They have nothing we want except their picks, so I see no deal unless they want Gortat back for their unprotected 1st rounder this year. You and I both know that isn’t happening. Besides, Vucevic is outplaying Gortat this year and is much younger on a cheaper deal.

MIA [$13.3]

They could use Gortat. In fact, this would be the team that would need him most, but they have nothing offer. Miami has no expiring deals and poor draft position. However, if a deal were to happen, it might behoove Miami to find another team that can send the Suns something to facilitate Gortat to Miami. Gortat would improve Miami’s front line considerably for the playoffs, and his deal is done in two years – enough time to win two more championships and say goodbye to him. This is the only potential trading partner [if there were a third team] that makes sense.

PHI [$10.7]

They have Bynum and have stated they are signing him, so why would they want Gortat? They also have a bevy of young wings, so they don’t really need Dudley. They could use JO, but that wouldn’t net us anything significant. Would they give up their first round pick for JO? Probably not. Moving on.

NY [$10.2]

The Knicks really could use Jared Dudley, but are apparently not interested in sending back Shumpert. Other than Iman, NY has nothing else we want. They have no expiring deals and their draft position is weak. The question you have to ask yourself is if Jared Dudley were in the draft this year, where would you pick him? If it is any lower than 25th, then rally for a deal. I personally would take him in the top 15.

BOS [$5.7]

Boston has been long rumored as a trade partner for the Suns. They could definitely use Gortat in the middle. However, the purported return to the Suns has been underwhelming to say the least. I know many of you think Fab Melo is the bees knees, but let’s get real. They guy can’t even get on the team bus for a team that has ZERO centers. Pass. Courtney Lee? Avery Bradley? Bass? Terry? Even Rondo? Danny Ainge is asking far too much for all of these guys, and I am not sure we want any of them. If a deal is done, it is probably going to be a three way deal with Smith going to Boston, Gortat going to ATL, and the Suns getting a pick. I would be okay with that, as long as it is a relevant pick. Whatever we do, we need not take back any player from Boston carrying a salary past this year. Likelihood of that happening? Slim to none.

CHI [$4.3]

Chicago has something we could take, but what would be the cost? I would love to see the Suns take Rip Hamilton’s expiring deal, and even take Kirk Hinrich’s deal that extends to next season, as long as we can net something in return. The question is, what could that be? Possibly CHI 1st rounder either this year or in 2014? I cannot see them doing that simply to shed Hinrich’s $4M next season [and $8.9 of tax this season]. Would we take it for a 2nd rounder? Meh.

POR [$3.2]

No deal makes sense with the Blazers. JJ Hickson is outplaying Gortat, despite the fact that Gortat may be a longer term center for them than Hickson. They don’t need Dudley. And they only have $7.1M in expiring deals, except that $4 of that is Hickson. There is no deal here.

LAC [$2.6]

The Clippers have an expiring deal in Odom that would clear them of the tax. However, they are only paying $2.6 M and are not really motivated to do anything that costs them much. The only motivation they might have is to clear Odom in order to extend Bledsoe. Yet the Clippers probably do not see any value in anything the Suns have. They don’t need Gortat or Dudley. They also don’t need backups at any position. I see nothing here.

GSW [$1.3]

The Warriors have no expiring deals, don’t need anything we have, and would want to dump Biedrins or Jefferson on us. I don’t see that in our plans.

All-in-all, there are very few deals out there that make any sense. Finding a partner to facilitate a Gortat to Miami seems to make sense, but it is highly unlikely. A deal with Boston [possibly including Atlanta] may extract something for us, but it also could be a dangerous deal. My guess is that we actually only do something with Bassy and O’Neal for very little value, and I am not sure that will get done.

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There have been numerous rumors indicating that nearly every player on the current roster for the Phoenix Suns will be on the move. Most of those are just smoke and mirrors according to league sources I spoke to today.

Right now, however, the team is filtering through the offers and rumors to add more assets to the roster.

One league source told me today, "(It's) hard to say if anything will get done by the deadline." That may pertain to large moves as the team is right now embroiled in talks to make some ripples in the water before the 1 p.m. local time trade deadline.

One move that ESPN Reporter Mark Stein has mentioned the possibility of the Suns sending Sebastian Telfair to the Toronto Raptors in return for their second round pick (No. 40 today) and recently acquired fourth-year center Hamed Haddadi.

That deal makes sense for the Suns to bring in a younger option at back-up center and add another pick to the fold to replace the one used to acquire Marcus Morris.

Telfair has not been used in game action recently and any move would be doing right by the veteran who would be closer to his New York home in Toronto and playing with off-court friends Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry.

Update (10:55 a.m. MST):The Phoenix Suns officially announced the acquisition of Marcus Morris from the Houston Rockets in exchange for the Suns’ 2013 second round draft pick on Thursday. They...

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The Plan

Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby did his weekly radio show with KTAR/Arizonasports.com yesterday and laid out the Phoenix Suns blueprint for the trade deadline with less than 24 hours left on the clock.

"The standard for us has to be that we need to be looking long-term, not short-term," Babby said to Doug and Wolf. "We have to be extremely cautious about giving up picks, particularly first round picks. That's going to be our lifeblood for getting better."

"Any trade we make is going to have be a trade that advances our cause in the long-term either by getting a young asset or getting more picks or something of that nature."

Important words to remember: long term, young assets, more picks

Within hours of that interview, the Phoenix Suns acquired second-year player Marcus Morris, the 14th pick in the 2011 draft, for their 2013 second-round draft pick (likely around #35 overall). As you know, Marcus is the twin of Suns player Markieff Morris. Between the two, Marcus is the scorer while Markieff is the rebounder.

What other ground rules do the Suns have on deadline deals?

Regarding whether he would take on money to get a pick, Babby said: "I would take your first round pick and your bad contract if it didn't impact us past this year. It would have to be an expiring."

Regarding cash to offset salary coming in: "The Suns cannot take any more cash in deals."

The new CBA does not allow any team to either accept or send out any more than $3.1 million in any league year. Since the Suns accepted that entire amount in the Laker deal last summer, they cannot take on any more cash.

The upshot: the Suns will not use any more of their $4 million remaining cap space to absorb a veteran's contract just to get another asset, unless it is expiring this summer.

Work to do

Now the trade deadline is less than six hours away, and the Suns have more work to do to make room for minutes for young guys. The Suns are committed to giving minutes to younger players over the last 27 games, and they should be.

That means less-to-no time for Sebastian Telfair, Jermaine O'Neal and one or more of Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown.

Sebastian Telfair has likely played his last game for the Phoenix Suns. Twitter rumors, including one from Gambo yesterday, have the Suns possibly trading Telfair to Toronto for a second-round pick.

Jermaine O'Neal has also likely played his last game for Phoenix, if only to free up more minutes for Markieff Morris and/or new acquisition Marcus Morris in a reasonable rotation. Expect the Suns to try to acquire a future second-round pick for O'Neal.

If neither Telfair nor O'Neal are traded by 1pm today, my personal opinion is that both are released before the next Suns game to allow them an opportunity to pick their next team. Kendall Marshall and Marcus Morris need their rotation minutes.

If the Suns want to give consistent minutes to Wesley Johnson and/or Diante Garrett, who killed it in the D-League, over the rest of the season, they need to subtract something from the wing rotation of Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown and Michael Beasley.

Rumors have all but dropped off entirely for Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat, once considered the Suns greatest trade assets. John Gambodoro, who likely has direct sources in the Suns front office, has vehemently killed all Gortat rumors (Atlanta, OKC). Chris Broussard reportedly has Suns connections and has killed them too.

Jared Dudley has been hardly mentioned recently, since being linked to New York for Iman Shumpert. Paul Coro of azcentral.com confirmed that the Suns have "real" interest in Shumpert, but did not confirm what package the Suns offered the Knicks, if any. Since then, the Knicks folks (coach and players) have been adamant that Shumpert is staying put.

My own thought bubble

Absolutely zero has been made of this, so there's no...nada...zilch intel, but if I were to connect the dots, I'd notice that Minnesota has reportedly been interested in acquiring "big wing" help and been willing to trade a #1 pick for that player.

Wouldn't Dudley fit in nice there? The Wolves could remove protections from their pick starting in 2014, or give the Suns the Memphis pick outright this season.

Shannon Brown, who has $1.75 million guaranteed for next season, has not played the last two nights due to back and ankle pain and has lost most of his rotation minutes recently. If he's not traded or released, it seems likely that he will get a lot of chair-time on the bench the rest of the season. Brown won't want that to happen, so that's why I see a release on the horizon. This is just my opinion though. Not a single piece of intel to support it. But if he's released this season, the Suns would have to pay his salary but can spread his cap hit over several seasons. And that would allow him to hook on with a team of his choice for the remainder of the season.

On trade rumors

Whatever happens today, I would be SHOCKED if an actual deal resembles anything rumored out there right now.

"Information should be confidential," Babby said on KTAR. "As much as it might be interesting for you, the more we can keep things secret the better for the basketball team."

Of course, this makes total sense. And it's no surprise coming from Lon Babby. I have had a few conversations with him myself this year, and the prevailing theme is that most information in the media is un-sourced speculation.

Let's look at the Suns actual deals since Lon Babby and Lance Blanks took over.

  • Suns-Orlando trade in December 2010: Turkoglu/Richardson/Clark for Gortat/Carter/Pietrus
  • Suns-Houston trade in February 2011: Dragic/Orlando's pick for Aaron Brooks
  • Suns-Lakers trade in July 2012: Nash for four draft picks
  • Suns-Houston trade yesterday: a second round pick for Marcus Morris

Not one of these deals was leaked to the media before it was consummated. Every single one of them out of "thin air" as far as media are concerned.

In that same time period, media and bloggers across the country have rumored dozens of "offers" and "trades" that never came to pass.

Lon Babby, rightly so, would rather be graded on the trades that actually happened - which he would be the first to admit were hit and miss - than make any attempt to justify any "plan" or "position" on rumors that were never fully founded or sourced, and never came to fruition.

Babby talked to KTAR about lack of two-source verification on rumors anymore. He talked about bloggers and social media reporting something that was only tangentally sourced, and provided a good analogy to describe his frustration (a proposed trade of Wolf from KTAR for Gambo).

I will translate his story into a basketball scenario: If one team asks another "would you trade player x for player y" and the other teams says "no, I'm not interested in doing that", someone in the media will get wind of the conversation and report "the teams are in discussions on a trade!". Bloggers would pick up the story and write about it for two weeks, and readers would take polarizing positions and say that team A has "no plan, they're idiots for considering it!". When in fact, they hadn't.

"There's not as much sourcing." He goes on to say that "no one has ever called us to ask if we are interested in a player."

He and I have had several conversations this year about proper sourcing of rumors before reporting them as fact, or sensationalizing them for the sake of readership. As a lawyer, he is very concerned with conjecture being reported as fact and that we have a responsibility to report only the facts.

Lon has told me specifically this season that it is against Suns policy to comment on any trade rumors. He told KTAR that it's bad for the team if rumors of actual negotiations leak. "I am a stickler here," he said, "that we don't have any leaks."

That's an interesting and telling comment. In a perfect world for the Suns, there would be no rumors or leaks before deals go down. And that when deals go down, the teams control the flow of information. I can completely, wholeheartedly understand that. If I were in Lon's shoes, I'd feel the same way.

Yet we all know that's not how the world works today. It's all about real-time information and page views and readership, because that drives profits. Plus, we all just like to talk...and talk...and talk. The more conversation fodder, the better.

"I'm not saying necessarily it's a bad thing," Babby says of it all. "It's just a reality."

Most of all, he dislikes leaks of actual negotiations. Lon mentioned a trade that was made last summer, without naming names, in which he got buy-in on his usual request not to let anything about the trade leak to the media until it was finalized with the league. Sure enough, the story was on twitter within twenty minutes. Needless to say, Lon did not like how that happened.

To illustrate his point that there are tons of conversations that almost never come to fruition, yet a handful of them get leaked to media as if they are about to happen, Lon dropped a nugget that might cause local media to drool.

"We keep a trade log in which we record every single conversation," he said in a candid moment. "I know we have well over 100 entries in it over the past months or so."

Will any of those turn into a deal today, by 1pm Arizona time?

Probably. But don't expect it to be anything that was rumored in the media so far.

Except maybe Bassy to Toronto for a second-round pick, which is being repeated over and over the last 24 hours.

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Klay Thompson came out gunning for the Suns with 14 1st quarter points, making six out of his seven shots, as the built a seven point lead the Suns were never able to overcome. Jarrett Jack[ed] up a number of bombs himself and the Warriors managed to hold off the Suns frontline assault from Luis Scola [14 & 10] and Jermaine "I wonder where i will be tomorrow" O’Neal [17 & 12].

The Warriors shot 14 of 19 and took a lead despite the fact the Suns were able to get off 26 shots in the quarter behind Goran Dragic’s 10 points and 5 assists. From that point, it was a game of mini-attacks as the Suns would mount several, drawn out and difficult attempts to take the lead, only to give back everything they gained in a matter of a few possessions each time.

The second quarter saw the Suns scorch the nets on 10 of 19 from the field with the "all I-am-not-going-to-be-on-this-team-tomorrow" lineup of Marshall, Johnson, Beasley, Morris and O’Neal. Meanwhile, the red-hot Warriors flamed out with an 8-24 shooting quarter. You would think the Suns would have climbed back into the game, but you would be wrong. The Suns managed to lose the quarter by a single point behind 6 turnovers, giving up a number of easy buckets on the break.

The half of basketball seemed as though the Suns struggled to get anything they got, while the Warriors moved and flowed like a team that wants to play together. This was evident from their 19 assists on 22 field goals.

The third quarter saw the Suns scrap and claw their way to within four. Well, scrap and claw wouldn’t really be the term. They continued to hit shots, going 10-17 in the quarter. Jared Dudley hit all three of his shots, including two three balls and a dunk. YES, a legitimate dunk.

At one point they had hit 7-9 and were within one point on a PJ Tucker post up. Then Stephen Curry hits a runner, MOrris hits the side of a barn, and Landry gets a fast break bucket and the Suns were down six again, just like that. The Suns turn it over on the next possession [albeit on a no-call foul on Dragic] and Klay drops another bomb to put us back in the eight point hole. Once again, hot shooting on the Suns part and terrible shooting on the Warriors, yet they still outscore us by a point in the third quarter.

There was more of the same in the fourth quarter, as the Suns cut it to three with 9:43 to go on a Beasley three. Then it was the GSW backcourt show, as Curry hit a runner, Morris charged, Jack tossed one in, Beasley walked and Curry finds Lee wide open for a dunk and it was quickly back to a nine point lead.


But wait, there is more. The Suns managed to cut it to 4 with just over four minutes left. Once again, Curry with a runner, a Scola miss, Curry with a three, a Dudley miss, David Lee with the post hook, a Tucker miss and the series ends with a Jack three to put the Warriors up twelve. Game Over!

Player of the Game:

Jarrett Jack, 21 points off the bench. Sure, I could have gone the easy route and picked Thompson for his 28 points and 8 rebounds, but I like to shock people. Jack seemed to hit big shots every time the Suns got close.

Suns Wasted Performance of the Game:

Goran Dragic, who once again put together a great performance with 20 points and 10 assists to go along with 5 steals. I am just sorry he is wasting these performances in meaningless losses.

Showcase for Trade Value Player of the Game:

Jermaine O’Neal, 17 and 12 in 22 minutes. Is it not obvious that this guy still can produce for someone. Come on league, someone needs to drop a first round pick for this guy!

Missing In Action Player of the Game:

Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown. Is it not obvious that we are showcasing guys at this point?

Quote Of The Night:

"The only difference between Klay Thompson and Wes Johnson is confidence." Eddie Johnson, Suns Analyst

Hair of the Night:

No, not Beasley. This one goes to Andrew Bogut, for proudly displaying his tribute to Tom Chambers by rocking the TC Mullet.

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