When Ryan McDonough was named the new general manager of the Phoenix Suns this off-season, he promised big changes to come for the franchise. He put actions behind his words when he made one of the bigger trades in the NBA this summer to acquire point guard Eric Bledsoe. Less than a week before the start of the 2013-2014 season, he’s done it again.
On Friday, McDonough and the Suns agreed to a huge trade with the Washington Wizards that sends the Wizards Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall. In return, Phoenix acquires the expiring contract of injured center Emeka Okafor and a top-12 protected 2014 NBA Draft. The trade was first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.
After a trade of this magnitude, people always want to talk about winners and losers from the deal, discussing which team got players or picks that will help them moving forward and which team might be overrating a piece that they acquired. However, as I look at the Suns/Wizards trade, I can’t shake the feeling that both teams are better off after the deal.
As far as the Wizards are concerned, grabbing Gortat is huge for this team. The Wizards are in “playoffs or bust” mode this season with the extension of John Wall and a talented young core surrounding him. However, one of the things that the Wizards were missing in this season was an offensive option on the interior. Grabbing a player like Gortat, who averaged 15.4 points and 10 rebounds per game on 55.5 percent shooting in the 2011-2012 season in Phoenix, certainly gives them that. In addition, anything positive that the other pieces the Wizards got in the trade give the team is just an added bonus.
The Suns on the other hand are now going to be even worse than they were projected to be in the 2013-2014 season. Gortat was going to be one of the Suns three primary offensive options this season and now their frontcourt is left with an unimpressive and unproven group of guys taking the floor this season. Despite the loss of Gortat, though, Phoenix is right where they want to be.
The biggest challenge that McDonough faced when he took the job in the Suns’ front office was clearing cap-space and trying to perform damage-control on the roster constructed by his predecessors. Thus far into his tenure, he has done just that by getting rid of a couple of big contracts, acquiring big expiring contracts, and picking up draft picks. The picks are the key here for the Suns.
With the acquisition of the Wizards’ pick, the Suns now sit at four first round picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, a draft that is said to be one of the best in the past decade or so. Not only does that mean the Suns will have the opportunity to pick up some potential franchise-changing players in the draft, but they will also possibly be able to swap those picks for something of high value with a team looking to add a big rookie as well.
It’s not often that a trade goes down in the NBA and makes perfect sense for both organizations, but the Suns and Wizards seem to have pulled it off beautifully. With the addition of Gortat, they have to be projected as a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. With another first-round pick in tow, the Suns rebuilding project is going better than anyone could have expected. Talk about a productive day in the NBA.