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NBA AM: Suns Looking To Trade For Stars
Posted By Steve Kyler On July 30, 2013 @ 9:41 am In NBA | No Comments
Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough talks about his new team, what he is trying to accomplish and what he thinks of his roster.Watch More Video Here
Phoenix Ready To Trade: New Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough understands how the NBA works. You are either drafting your next star or leveraging your draft picks to trade for one. With a pocketful of picks and young players on rookie deals McDonough likes his options.
“We could have as many as three [picks] next year and two the year after,” McDonough said to Adam Green of ArizonaSports.com.
“When teams have maybe a disgruntled superstar, what are they looking for in return? Well, they’re looking for picks, that’s what they want.
“I think we’re well positioned to strike if and when the next disgruntled superstar becomes available.”
If that “disgruntled” star doesn’t materialize McDonough has the fall back of the talent that those draft picks could inject into his team.
McDonough has already flipped one of his veterans for some youth and draft picks sending Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee and a lottery protected first round draft pick next summer.
In talking with Arizona Sports 620′s Burns and Gambo, McDonough said he was excited about what both players brought to the team.
“Miles Plumlee looked very good for the Pacers Summer League for the second year in a row,” McDonough said. “He’s a good rebounder going back to his days at Duke.
“I like his character, rebounding and athleticism and think he will fit right in.”
As for Green: “We (Celtics) drafted him in summer of 2005,” McDonough said. “He always had athleticism and scoring ability, but needed to mature, which he has.
“He had a very good year with the Nets two years ago, but didn’t play well last year with the Pacers, which I think was a product of the system. An exciting athlete that can run shoot and jump. So yes, both guys can play significant roles next year.”
The Suns are currently sitting at $58.403 million in salary commitments and have eight players on rookie scale contracts including this year’s draft picks Alex Len and Archie Goodwin.
The Suns own their own first round pick this year and are owed a lottery protected first rounder from Minnesota that was part of the Robin Lopez trade last year. They are owed a lottery protected first rounder from Indiana as part of the Luis Scola trade.
The Suns are also owed a 2015 conditional second rounder from Milwaukee as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade this summer.
The Suns are also owed the Lakers 2015 first rounder that is top-three protected as part of the Steve Nash sign-and-trade.
The Suns also have just $14.112 million in salary guarantees next summer, but have four team options to decide on this offseason and three players eligible for qualifying offers next summer including point guard Eric Bledsoe.
We Want To Know:
Mitch Talks Lakers: For the first time since losing Dwight Howard to free agency and the Houston Rockets, Laker GM Mitch Kupchak talked with reporters about losing Howard, the direction of the team this year and next.
“It wasn’t a surprise. I had a feeling that Houston was a frontrunner, and whenever a player is an unrestricted free agent, anything can happen,” Kupchak said to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. “Clearly, we wanted to keep him here in Los Angeles, and I felt we did everything we could do within reason to show we did want to keep him here.
“Until the end, I kept up hope. I think we were as persistent as we could be within reason. I wasn’t shocked but I was disappointed.”
The immediate public response to losing Howard and the unknown of Kobe Bryant’s Achilles’ injury is that the Lakers would be throwing the proverbial towel and tanking the season for a high level draft pick.
“You know that’s not our plan. Our plan was to bring back Dwight Howard and that would have sky-rocketed our payroll,” Kupchak said. “That’s never a plan here with our fan base, to throw in the towel before the season begins. We always try to win, and that’s what we’re going to do this year.
“We have challenges. There’s no doubt. We don’t know when Kobe’s coming back, and we don’t know what level he’s going to come back at, although we’re optimistic. Everything’s good with Steve [Nash]. Pau [Gasol] should be fine. We’ve added some athleticism. We’re hopefully putting ourselves in position where we can compete in every game.”
A big part of the Lakers’ ability to compete this year will be Bryant, and how quickly he can return to action, something Kupchak admitted was a huge unknown.
“Obviously, we’re all hopeful and we all know Kobe. When you guess on Kobe, he always tries to prove you wrong,” Kupchak said. “The reality is he’s doing what he should be doing. He’s making progress probably weekly.
“Does that mean five months is possible or it’s really going to be eight or nine or 10? We just don’t know. When he gets back in September, we’ll take another look at him, but he hasn’t been on a basketball court. It’s really premature to try to predict other than try to be optimistic that he’ll be ready for opening night or the 15th of November or the 1st of December or the 15th of December.”
Kupchak said that he has seen or spoken to both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash recently and expects them both to be healthy and ready for training camp which opens in late September.
“I expect both those guys to participate in training camp. Kobe is obviously the wild card right now,” Kupchak said.
“I spoke to Pau about two weeks ago for 45 minutes. He said he feels a lot better than he did a month ago. He was optimistic that he’d be ready for training camp. He does plan on playing three or four more years, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t with his skill level.
“We saw Nash out here last week. If I had to guess, he feels he’s in the 90th-percentile of where he wants to be. We still have two more months.”
The Lakers are one of the few teams looking at huge amounts of space next season with only Steve Nash and Robert Sacre on the books for roughly $11 million, meaning the Lakers could have as much as $49 million in salary cap space come July, depending on how they handle Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, whose contracts expire this season.
The prevailing thought is that the Lakers will be aggressive in trying to pry a star-level player like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony out of their existing situations, much as Houston was able to do with Dwight Howard.
“I’m not sure if you’ll see that Dwight Howard type of player go from team to team, although it is possible,” Kupchak said. “We do feel Los Angeles is a destination spot. We have complete confidence in the organization, the city, our fan base, that we would be considered as a destination for players in the future. So we’re hopeful going forward that the flexibility that we have will be beneficial.”
While James and Anthony are the possible big fish next summer, the summer of 2015 could feature the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo who could all opt-out of their current deals.
“You have to look beyond next year. You can’t say we have all this flexibility and we’re going to use it all next year,” Kupchak said. “You don’t know if you’re going to use it for a free agent or a trade or to sign back Pau or Kobe. We’re in the position where we can sit down at the end of the year and look and see what’s best for the organization. We’re in control, so to speak.”
Last season the Lakers were on of the better teams in the Western Conference after the All-Star break winning 20 of 28 games (.714) despite a rash of injuries that decimated the roster.
Kupchak said he thinks between the roster additions this summer and the healthy return of Gasol and Nash and the inevitable return of Bryant that the Lakers could be a solid team this year.
“This off-season if we did one thing, between the small forward and wing spot and backcourt, we got quicker and more athletic, something I think we needed,” he said.
“If they can both [Bryant and Nash] make a contribution in line with what they’ve done in the past, then we think we can win a bunch of games with this team,” Kupchak said.
The Lakers are current sitting on $76.927 million in salary commitments, which puts them $5.179 million over the luxury tax line.
Kupchak acknowledged the Lakers tax situation but said that getting under the tax would require moving off one of the higher dollar players and that was not something he was open to doing at this point.
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