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Rumor: Phoenix Suns open to trading first pick, Nikola Jokic could be a possible target

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Would the Nuggets even consider it?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Phoenix Suns actually crazy enough to trade the #1 pick in this year’s draft? According to their general manager, Ryan McDonough…maybe?

“We’re certainly open to that. We’ll consider it,” McDonough said. “Obviously, we’ll have more information closer to the draft than we do today, after we go through the workout process and the interview process and we get the medical physicals. So we’re open to that.

”I think if you look around the NBA, as far as the veteran players, there are probably a few players we’d consider trading the pick for, not ... just pick for player No. 1. So it’ll be a busy month for us.”

The Suns have spent the last three seasons trying to secure the first overall pick, and now that they have, it’s curious that they would trade away that opportunity. There is, however, a precedent for it. Last year, the Boston Celtics moved the number one pick to the Philadelphia 76er’s for a nice package, selecting Jayson Tatum at third overall instead. In 1993, the Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic made a deal, swapping first overall pick Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway and three future first round picks. Had Hardaway not sustained his injuries, the Magic would’ve won that deal handily.

In both deals, the team trading the number one pick won the trade, and McDonough is surely exploring his options to see if he can do the same.

“Our biggest team needs are at the point guard slot and at the 5,” McDonough said. “... Where we sit in this draft, those are two pretty good positions to address. But we won’t look to just address those through the draft through young players. We’ll also look at free-agent signing scenarios, we’ll look at trade scenarios. We think and hope we’re one of the more improved teams in the league next year.”

The accompanying article went on to list potential trade targets for the Suns: veteran guard Damian Lillard, young cornerstone guards Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons, and young cornerstone bigs Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, and...Nikola Jokic.

If these are the kinds of players the Suns will be asking for, it may take more than the number one pick to acquire any of them. Save for Lillard, the five other players are potential top 15 players in the NBA for the next decade. Embiid and Simmons helped lead the Sixers to a 3 seed and were dominant at times. Towns is the only player in NBA history to accumulate 1,000 rebounds, 100 blocks, and 100 three pointers in a season, which he’s accomplished twice. Mitchell was a revelation this past season, and he looks like Dwyane Wade with a jumper in his near future. Lillard has been putting up excellent offensive seasons in Portland for years.

And then there’s Jokic, also listed as a possible target for the number one pick.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

From the Nuggets’ perspective, it would be nearly impossible to move Jokic for whatever the Suns can offer. Devin Booker and the first pick? Sure, that’s a conversation the Nuggets might be willing to have. But the Suns aren’t looking to move Booker as well, but likely pair him with whoever is acquired. So, that rules that scenario out.

So, what can the Suns offer that would interest the Nuggets in relinquishing the center who averaged 21.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 1.3 steals on 52.5/45.9/85.0 shooting splits in the second half of the season?

Very likely nothing.

Last season, Kristaps Porzingis was in trade rumors, as the New York Knicks and Phil Jackson sought out a deal that would greatly improve the team. That deal never materialized. It’s possible that recent rumors, from the Towns-Timberwolves rift, to this new Suns information, are merely whispers teams are providing for better positioning in trade talks

What’s more likely is a trade similar to last year’s deal between Philly and Boston, a team close to the first overall pick using extra assets to move up to the top spot. Would the Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, or Memphis Grizzlies use extra assets to move up in this draft to select one of Luka Doncic or DeAndre Ayton?

McDonough and the Suns wouldn’t share this information without reason. They are looking to be the beneficiaries of a desperate team looking to take a leap of faith. It’s unlikely that the Suns acquire any of the rumored players above, but a team desperate to move up by including other valuable assets? That sounds far more likely.

Don’t think too hard on it Nuggets fans. Jokic’s star power, contract situation, and his affect on the Nuggets should prevent the Nuggets from thinking about trading him in any such deal. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Suns got what they wanted. There are many desperate teams at the top of the 2018 draft, and one might make an offer the Suns simply cannot refuse.

Poll

Suns get Nikola Jokic and Juancho Hernangomez. Nuggets get first overall, Josh Jackson, and Dragan Bender. Who says no?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Both say no.
    (281 votes)
  • 12%
    Suns say no.
    (270 votes)
  • 60%
    Nuggets say no.
    (1323 votes)
  • 14%
    They make the trade.
    (311 votes)
2185 votes total Vote Now