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Nothing more has been made of this rumor, so it may have already died on the vine.

I know that the Phoenix Suns are extremely averse to letting rumors fly of actual, live trade talk, so this may be no more than a one-way pipe dream. Yet this rumor appears heavily in favor of the Suns, despite Perkins having another year on his contract than Gortat while being a much inferior player at this point in their careers.

The Phoenix Suns have always liked rookie Jeremy Lamb, who was drafted one spot ahead of the Suns' #13 selection last June and later used by Houston (along with a guaranteed lottery pick and SG Kevin Martin) to acquire All-Star James Harden.

Lamb is buried on the bench of Finals contender, playing behind Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin, so little is known of his actual NBA game at this point. But he did play well in summer league and preseason, so the promise is there.

Suns fans have begun to lose their love for the Polish Machine, Marcin Gortat, who has displayed inconsistent energy throughout the season to further exacerbate his offensive struggles with the loss of Steve Nash setting him up for easy scores.

But Gortat is one of only a handful of NBA players averaging at least 11 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks on the season and is only a season removed from averaging a double-double in his first season+ of starting in the NBA. Gortat's legs are fresher than his 28 years given that he only started playing basketball in his teens.

Yet Gortat's greatest long-term value to a team like the Thunder is that his contract is a bit cheaper and expires a full year earlier than Perkins, allowing the Thunder to better manage the dreaded luxury tax penalties that kick in soon.

To get the Suns to eat Perkins' contract, the Thunder would have to throw in assets, which Lamb and a future #1 pick would satisfy.

Such is the new world of the NBA. In droves, the "haves" are beginning to seek out teams with cap space, and are being forced to include assets to get another team to help them stay under the luxury tax threshold. The Thunder themselves were pioneers in this world, as Suns fans know all too well, so it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if the Suns got to reap some of those rewards right back.

Poll
Would you trade Gortat and Tucker for Perkins, Lamb and a future (lottery protected) pick?

  782 votes | Results

Even the hottest, most glorious fires will die out if not properly tended. When the flames die, a chill sets in and glowing ash is all that remains. But sometimes, the heat from that ash, the embers...

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The lowly Phoenix Suns started the night on a 12-0 run and never looked back, until Portland tapped them on the shoulder late. But Portland's comeback was a little too late, and the Suns finished out a big road win in Portland.

The Suns charged out of the gate, kept scoring and finished with 36 big points after one quarter. Considering the last home game I attended, where the Suns had only 34 points after THREE whole quarters, this game was very refreshing. Myers Leonard was abused again by Suns centers Marcin Gortat (6,2) and Jermaine O'Neal (3,2) and Goran Dragic showed how many assists he could rack up with a shooting team by getting 10 in the quarter to go along with 5 points.

The Suns did not stop there, scoring another 27 in the second quarter to finish with 63 at the half. Not only did the Suns score at will, they played strong defense, holding Portland to 47 points. The Suns had 7 second-quarter turnovers, but made up for it by outrebounding Portland 14-7 in the frame.

While Shannon Brown nursed a turned ankle and sore back, Wesley Johnson had a great second quarter with 12 points and 5 rebounds. he soared all over the court in this quarter, making Suns fans wonder where this aggressive guy was all season? Johnson played the last 14 minutes of the half, taking not only Brown's minutes but also Tucker's second quarter minutes as well.

In the third, Portland started hot and outscored the Suns 16-8 in the first six minutes on 6-8 shooting while the Suns shot 3-7 with two turnovers. The Suns righted the ship though, and soon Dragic had a career high in assists by the three-minute mark of the third quarter.

By the end of the third, your Slovenian Dragon had 16 assists, a career high with a quarter left to play. Can he get 20? Dragic also scored the ball, getting 14 points on 5-12 shooting. Damian Lillard kept the Blazers within striking distance with 19 points and 4 assists, but those numbers paled in comparison to Dragic. J.J. Hickson powered his way to 21 points and 13 rebounds after three quarters as well (9 and 7 in the third alone), helping the Blazers grab four offensive rebounds to keep the game closer than it could have been.

The Suns entered the 4th quarter with an 84-73 lead.

The bench unit kept the lead behind Jermaine O'Neal, who put together a heck of a game with 9 points and 13 rebounds. The Suns took a 90-74 lead early in the fourth before Portland began chipping heavily away, going on an 18-6 run even while the Suns brought back in their starters.

Shades of the earlier season loss in Portland were coming to light, where Portland overcame a deficit to beat the Suns by 3 when the Suns were trying to right their ship in December. That loss to Portland sparked 11 losses in 12 games, mostly on the road.

Portland roared back in the fourth while the Suns' once-fluid once stopped up with Dragic getting trapped and forced to the release the ball. Michael Beasley had one of his "off" games, shooting 3 for 9 with 3 fouls and a turnover. He was a ball-stopper, taking shots or committing fouls seemingly every time he touched it.

The Suns were able to pull out the win on the strength of some strong defense and a couple of crafty drives to the hoops by Gortat and Scola, despite big shots made by Portland. Just not enough of them.

The Phoenix Suns outrebounded Portland 51-36 - a feat unto itself.

The Suns shot 50% on the night, compared to Portland's 42%.

But Portland made 26-32 on free throws to keep it close, and the Suns had to ride Dragic's 14 points and 18 assists to the victory. O'Neal chipped in 9 points and 13 assists, and Wesley-freakin-Johnson had a HUGE 14 points and 8 rebounds.

SUNS WIN!

The Suns broke a 7-game losing streak in Portland while the Blazers extended their season-long losing streak to 6 games.

TRADE RUMOR NOTES

  • Jermaine O'Neal is "wanted" by the New York Knicks. No word on what comes back to the Suns.
  • Sebastian Telfair is "wanted" by a few teams. Like O'Neal, no word on return value.
  • Both will likely be either included in a bigger deal or get a second-round pick by themselves
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Should the Phoenix Suns make an offer to Atlanta for Josh Smith? Would be make a good cornerstone player to partner with Goran Dragic and the future lottery picks? Is it worth sending Marcin Gortat and maybe Markieff Morris to the Hawks to get the multi-talented power forward?

All fun questions to ask and think about, and in light of the many trade rumors out there, it'd be criminally negligent on our part not to at least chat it out. But in this case, the situation remains what it is and that's reporters outside of Phoenix likely getting their info from agents and other teams who are speculating or simply blowing smoke while local sources are highly skeptical that the Suns want even Smith.

Here's the respected and informed Paul Coro from the Arizona Republic with the latest:

Resetting where the Suns sit with an approaching trade deadline | Insiders

The Josh Smith rumor keeps floating and there seems to be nothing at all on the trade front for him with Phoenix. Smith could be of more interest to the Suns in free agency but he wants to be a maximum-salary player and he is no face of the franchise. Rudy Gay was more of a real trade option than Smith has been.

It's an interesting assessment that isn't without flaws. Not flaws in the reporting mind you, but flaws in the thinking if this indeed represents the Suns mindset.

First: Does anyone really value Rudy Gay higher than Josh Smith? Gay is a one-dimensional player who (inefficiently) scores the ball. Smith fills up the box score with assists, rebounds, steals, blocks and yes, buckets. It's not even close.

The second flaw in this potential thinking is that Josh Smith would be available this summer as a free agent. If the Suns were to trade for Smith they'd hold a sizable monetary advantage when it comes time to re-sign him this summer. If they wait, the Suns would have no edge over the other teams with cap space and certainly a disadvantage to whoever holds his Bird Rights.

If the Suns want to save their money for some other unknown player (there really aren't any star targets this summer), that's fine. It plays into the hands of those drooling over the 2014 draft with big names (Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins) but let's remember that to be in the running for those guys the Suns need to be prepared for yet another horrible season of losing.

If saving the cap space and avoiding talent that could hurt those lottery chances is the plan, so be it. We can cover a losing team for another year...just don't try and tell me Josh Smith is a lesser player than Rudy Gay.

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This is an important trade deadline for the Phoenix Suns. They are at the crux of nearly every trade rumor and have their eyes on some talent, but they need to be wary of overpaying for the wrong players.

The overwhelming consensus is that Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks is the prize and silver lining to an overall dismal season, but he may be the panic move that reserves the Suns into mediocrity for the next 5-7 seasons. Smith is not a franchise guy, hence the Hawks willingness to let him go to the highest bidder. In eight years in the league Smith has been the best player on his team once (this year), an All-Star zero times, and a member of an All-NBA Team once (All-Defensive Second Team, 2009-2010).

His Hawks teams have been above .500 five times in nine seasons, four of which were teams led by Joe Johnson on the perimeter and Al Horford in the paint. Advanced stats need to be taken with a grain of salt, but Smith has an average of 5.1 Win Shares each year for the Hawks. In his four years with the Suns as arguably the teams fourth or fifth best player Jared Dudley has an average Win Share of 4.9. Does that scream franchise player?

He is equipped to be the third or fourth guy on a Championship team, or if he was still in his prime to be the second or third best player on a team with Championship aspirations. A Max Contract used to mean you are the man.

If the teams interest in Smith is legitimate, it will take a Max to get to get him to stay here, which locks the team into a perennial third wheel until he is 34 years old sacrificing 25% of the teams cap room for five seasons. The Suns went that route before when they acquired Stephon Marbury in an effort to stop-gap the losing by handing the keys over to the habitually average point guard.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. This is a new regime, but it looks like 11 years later history could be repeating itself.

There in lies a concept the team could key in on.

Instead of acquiring the third wheel masked as the franchise changer -- be the third wheel.

Most (if not all) trades in the NBA revolve around one team wanting a specific piece from another team, or two teams with mutually appealing assets they want to swap. In those situations there is always room for a virtuous front office to grab some assets as the prying vulture keeping a watchful eye out.

Scoping the landscape of the NBA there is not a franchise altering player on the horizon that can be had with the assets available.

Dudley, Marcin Gortat, Jermaine O'Neal, and Sebastian Telfair are all quality assets, but they are not the presence that makes teams come calling to unload a Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, or James Harden. All of which at one point were traded for packages more appealing than what the Suns are able to offer.

Without the assets to garner a star to the Valley, the next best option is to latch onto a trade as a third or fourth party to bring in some newer, potentially better assets to build off of.

In the recent past the Denver Nuggets were able to turn Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington into Andre Iguodala. The Memphis Grizzlies were able to turn the draft rights to Donte Greene into Darrell Arthur. Also, the Los Angeles Clippers turned Brian Cook into Nick Young and the New Orleans Hornets turned Brad Miller and Jerome Dyson into Robin Lopez.

All of those were assets collected while assisting another team get what they wanted. It is safe to say none of those assets outside of Afflalo provide the impact that Dudley or Gortat would today. So who is to say this is not the avenue for the Suns?

Those trades can backfire costing the team an asset for something that does not pan out like a second round pick or fringe NBA talent like Anthony Randolph. That is the risky element of making a move, but the risk factor is drastically reduced when the return is a Young, Iguodala, or Lopez type for a few years rather than a Smith type for five years.

In the past seven years there have been 23 trades involving three or four teams all of which are not homeruns for the third wheel.

That is an average 2.38 big trades a year, including the two that have already happened this season, the odds are on the Suns side to step in as a facilitator. The Hawks are eying the Milwaukee Bucks Monte Ellis while the Knicks and Magic are exploring a swap of Iman Shumpert and J.J. Redick.

Sift through the Magic, Knicks, Bucks, and Hawks roster to see what spare parts could be beneficial to the long-term future of the Suns; because Smith would be the Adam Dunn of NBA Trade Homeruns.

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