So much for longevity of the much-debated three-headed point guard monster. In wake of reports claiming the Phoenix Suns are shopping Goran Dragic, ESPN says the desert’s team is more likely to deal Isaiah Thomas instead.
This seems a far more realistic scenario than others that emerged this week – most confounding of which was that Phoenix would be willing to part with Dragic for a simple first-round pick. That’s a low asking price for a player of The Dragon’s caliber, even as the value of those draft selections skies ever-high.
Thomas is a good player. He’s a talented shot-maker, preternaturally gifted paint finisher, and has a knack for crunch-time scoring. But he’s an awkward fit on Jeff Hornacek’s roster due to the presence of Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, both of whom flourished in Phoenix’s frenetic spread system in 2013-2014. Development of both players has somewhat stalled this season, though, and Thomas’ addition is largely considered the reason why.
The viability of lineups featuring all three ballhandlers can be fleeting – they make a debilitatingly small perimeter triumvirate and each is far more comfortable playing with the ball than without it. All too frequently Dragic or Bledsoe is relegated to weak-side spot-up shooter while Thomas plays late-game creator, for instance. A bigger problem: One of those two players is normally on the sidelines with the game in the balance.
It’s just not ideal roster construction.
Phoenix surely understood that when signing Thomas on the free agent market and inking Bledsoe to a extension last offseason, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a talented player like Thomas for a relative bargain. If worse came to worst, GM Ryan McDonough could simply trade him – it appears we might have already reached that tipping point.
A key wrinkle here is Dragic’ impending free agency. But the Slovenian star has said in the past that his intention is to re-sign with Phoenix despite inevitable overtures from a list of starry suitors. One of the reasons why the Suns signed his brother, Zoran Dragic, was to no doubt cement that likelihood, too.
But free agency expectation doesn’t always turn into free agency reality. Trading Thomas while potentially losing Dragic is a risk for Phoenix, but a bigger one would be dealing the latter point guard and expecting the team to maintain its current level of play.
Dragic is a better and far more versatile player than Thomas – that’s what matters most here, and the Suns obviously realize it.