When the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes began, the Phoenix Suns weren’t really on the radar. If Aldridge was to leave, many thought it would be to his home state of Texas (and probably the Spurs) or to a big market like Los Angeles. But after the Suns’ surprise agreement with Tyson Chandler, their pitch to him got a lot better, and now Phoenix is right in the thick of things.
Of course, as it stands now, the Suns don’t have the cap space to sign Aldridge when able on July 9, so they’ve got to do some maneuvering. To that end, they’ve agreed to a trade with the Detroit Pistons, according to Adrian Wojnarowski:
First of all, I can’t believe the Suns are breaking up the Morris twins! Have they no heart?
Secondly, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe pointed out on Twitter, this potential trade alone doesn’t clear the space the Suns would need to sign LMA to a maximum contract. With just the trade of Morris, Granger and Bullock, the Suns would have $9 million available, and they’d need around $20 million for a maximum contract, depending on where the salary cap actually winds up when it’s announced by the NBA (sometime before contracts are allowed to be signed on July 9). Based on service time accumulated, Aldridge stands to make 30 percent of a team’s cap.
So far, the Suns haven’t been forced to deal away any of their core in service of pursuing Aldridge (who, again, is no sure thing to sign with Phoenix), but they’re going to have to make some tough choices that have no guarantee of paying off. They’ve already said they’re not trading Eric Bledsoe, further restricting their options.
This situation is reminiscent of the Houston Rockets’ all-out pursuit of Chris Bosh in the 2014 offseason, when they dumped Jeremy Lin and a first-round pick to Los Angeles to clear cap space for a free agent who never arrived. It’s a gamble, but the Suns might not have another chance at a true blue-chip free agent like this for a while, and they’re going for it. NBA teams chasing superstars is the deadly dance that transfixes the basketball world seemingly every July, and this year is no exception.
(Via Adrian Wojnarowski)