The Phoenix Suns were supposed to be better this season after adding Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 overall pick and making moves this offseason for other veteran pieces to go around their star duo of Ayton and Devin Booker.
However, 23 games into the season and the Suns are once again tracking towards the league’s worst record and showing little in the way of improvement. As happens when a team very clearly falls out of playoff contention this early in the season, many of the veterans on the roster become rumored to be available in trade talks, in hopes of collecting assets.
The biggest free agent acquisition of the Suns was Trevor Ariza, who they poached from the Rockets on a one-year, $15 million deal on the first night of free agency. It looked at the time like, maybe, a play to be competitive, but there was always a strong chance Ariza would be used by the Suns as trade bait as his skillset is something contenders can always use. Ariza isn’t able to be traded before December 15, when players signed this summer are eligible to be dealt, but once that deadline passes, Marc Stein of the New York Times indicates he’s at the top of the list of players expected to be on the move.
Ariza’s $15 million expiring deal means the Suns can, if they want to, use Ariza to take on a little bit of longer term money if it nets them a strong asset as well in the form of either a young player or a pick. One would hope that, either in an Ariza deal or otherwise, the Suns would go after a point guard of some kind, but that doesn’t have to be the focal point of an Ariza trade if better assets are available to them.
Given the apparent importance Ariza had on the success of the Rockets last year, even with a pedestrian year going in Phoenix, he should still have plenty of trade value. The Suns will hope the various contenders that could use his services will strike up a bidding war for him.
One intriguing option could be the Sixers, who still very much need some wing depth after dealing Robert Covington away in the Jimmy Butler trade. If the Suns are indeed interested in Markelle Fultz as has been reported and the Sixers are looking to move on from the 2017 No. 1 overall pick, it’s possible to create a package that would send Fultz to the desert (a better fit for his timeline and game, right now, next to Devin Booker) along with salary filler, for Ariza in return.