If the Pistons are looking for a good trade partner for Josh Smith, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher might just have the answer. In one of his latest videos, Bucher broke down superstars that need new homes.
Of course the video revolved around Josh Smith, who has been at the center of trade talks. Looking for a good fit for the wannabe small forward will be one of the bigger battles the Pistons front office will face.
Bucher has a solution.
The Phoenix Suns have always had a stretch four in their run and gun offense, and Bucher believes Josh Smith has enough athletic ability to fit the role that Shawn Marion once played for the Suns.
“That’s a team that’s going to play up and down and right into his strengths,” says Bucher. “He can be a shot blocker for them at the four position and he is going to be playing for a coach in Jeff Hornacek whose has already demonstrated that he can take guys that have been an issue before and make them into players and upstanding citizens within your program.”
It’s probably the most natural fit in the league for Smith, when it comes to style of play. Yet, it’s hard to picture the Suns being happy with any deal that the Pistons could offer.
Let’s take a closer look.
The Suns improved vastly last season, and discovered some unique talent that they most likely wouldn’t be willing to trade.
Phoenix is one of the few teams in the NBA already under the Salary cap and with some wiggle room. At this point, they are just over four million dollars below the cap.
Once players are officially enter free agency, the Suns will clear Emeka Okafor‘s 15 million dollar contract, as well as Eric Bledsoe‘s 2.7 million. They will look to add that back most likely, but it will be a higher rate if he’s a priority for other teams as a restricted free agent. He is due one million more for next season if nobody puts a bid in for his services.
Let’s break it down further.
Off the Table:
Goran Dragic — There is no way the Suns are dealing the number one reason behind why they turned their program around for an overvalued small forward that really should be a power forward — that might fit well in their system. Dragic is due 7.5 million a season over the next two years. Meanwhile Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo are making over 12 milion a year. Looks like the Suns have a steal at point guard when it comes to cap hit.
Eric Bledsoe — It’s hard to see him going to Detroit in a trade. Why would you sacrifice a player you’ve invested in for a player like Josh Smith? The only deal that would make sense is to a team that can afford to accept a sign and trade with a monster contract. Why would he be used in a Josh Smith trade where there is no possible way of landing an asset for the betterment of the franchise’s future?
Gerald Green — He has been a part of trades all of his NBA life, but has finally found a team that understands his strengths and has built around his weaknesses. He has the potential to turn into a superstar and the Suns are paying him just 3.5 million a season.
2014 First Round Picks (14,18,27) — You don’t use draft picks to acquire a player nobody wants. You force a team to give you one to take on the contract.
Possible Trade Pieces:
Channing Frye — The power forward has a player option for next season but he is willing to lower his 6.8 million dollar hit on the cap by signing an extension. It seems like he would opt in on his option if they don’t come to a deal, which could very well mean that he would be a good trade piece. The question again becomes, would the Suns be willing to deal an expiring contract for the 13.5 million that Smith will make every year for the next three seasons. Because of how they have addressed the future, a right now player like Smith just doesn’t seem to fit.
The Morris twins — Both are possible throw ins to the Pistons for Smith, but the Suns have built a nice marketing campaign around Markieff and Marcus Morris. Either would most likely be a backup in Detroit, but would better serve the future of the team. Trading for both would cover 6 million dollars of cap space. Both have a club option too for the 2015/16 season.
Alex Len — He was the 5th pick of last year’s draft and only played eight minutes a game. It doesn’t seem at least yet, that Alex Len is fully in the Sun’s plans for the future. If he isn’t in the plans, then his contract has to be viewed as a bad one for the team. He’ll make roughly 3.5 million over the next two seasons. If Eric Bledsoe and Channing Frye return at their current salaries, than Len will be the third highest paid player on the team. I think he’s expendable, and it’s an affordable contract for the Pistons. He can become a role player and add depth up front to give Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe some more rest during certain games. At worst, he has a club option that can be exercised after next season.
Pistons receive Alex Len, Channing Frye, and Markieff Morris for Josh Smith and 2016 first round pick — The deal is still off by about two million dollars, but the Suns could pick up that difference. With their three draft picks they are going to need space on their roster if they plan on making a couple free agent moves as well with their pretty good size cap space.
All the right things would need to happen though for this deal to take place. Frye would have to accept his player option most likely knowing he is going to be traded from his hometown team — just to be dumped after the season.
Even with the first round pick thrown in the mix, it’s hard to reconcile losing two players that fit well with your system and last year’s 5th overall pick for Josh Smith’s annual 13.5 million dollar contract over the next three years. Plus your subtracting about 4 million dollars from your payroll that could go toward matching an offer for Eric Bledsoe or signing another solid free agent. That four million a year could be what it takes to sign two of their three first round picks as well.
For the Pistons, it’d also be hard to give up their first round pick after what happened to them this year thanks to previous decisions made by the Joe Dumars‘ regime.
Pistons receive Alex Len, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, and Gerald Green for Josh Smith and 2016 first round pick — Up front, I don’t see a deal with Gerald Green involved ever coming to fruition unless the Pistons offered two first rounders. It’s the only way though to come close to matching each teams salary without involving Channing Frye.
As unlikely as it is, the deal would work out for both teams. The Pistons get all their depth they need up front with Len and the Morris twins. Plus they get a player that can space the floor and play small forward in Green.
A Dream but not a Concept
I get where Ric Bucher was coming from by trying to squeeze a square block into a round hole by finding Josh Smith a new home. I think this is another good example at just how hard it might be to move Smith this offseason.
As a Suns fan I would want my team to stay far away from this deal. They are building for the future and it’s a process. Just because they had success early last season, doesn’t mean they should lose focus of the big picture.
Committing to three years of Josh Smith is ultimately doing that.