Scuffling Western Conference Contender at the Center of NBA Trade Deadline

OG Anunoby (center), Suns

Getty OG Anunoby (center), Suns

There’s an interesting dichotomy between the NBA teams wanting to add key pieces for a potential playoff run and others trying to shed themselves of bad contracts or players that just don’t fit. Then there are the clubs asking ridiculous prices for their alleged gems.

The latter situation is why organizations seeking to acquire are trying to wait out their dance partners, hoping the cost comes down as next Thursday’s NBA trade deadline approaches.

That said, Phoenix appears to be among the more active teams at present, both in trying to find a new home for Jae Crowder (the ongoing saga) and looking for help to break out of the large pack in the middle of the Western Conference standings.

Milwaukee is perhaps the party most interested in getting Crowder, who’s been sitting out, under mutual agreement with the Suns, because the club wouldn’t make a greater commitment than the $10.2 million for this year left on his deal. Phoenix is just a game above .500 heading into Friday’s date with the Celtics in Boston.

The Bucks are said to be looking to Crowder as someone who can provide a defensive injection they’ll need to get through Boston’s deep roster of offensive weapons and back to the Finals.

“But Milwaukee doesn’t have many assets, except a couple of second round picks, so I don’t know if Phoenix is going to oblige or not,” one GM told Heavy Sports. “It’s not like Milwaukee has a lot to trade, but Crowder could help them. It’s probably going to come down to whether Phoenix gets to the point where it just decides to get SOMETHING for the asset.”

Suns Looking at Anunoby

The Suns have been struggling a bit with Devin Booker’s injury absence, though he is expected back soon.

“They need something to get them going, a spark, something,” said a league exec.

According to this source, one Phoenix focus is Raptor forward OG Anunoby.

“And OG is the guy Toronto wants to move, because I guess there’s just not a great connection there,” he said. “But he’s only played in 40-something games in each of the last two years prior to this year, and now he’s out for a long stretch this year (currently with a wrist injury). When guys just don’t play that many games, that’s a killer to your franchise, too.

“I think he has some value, but I don’t know. Phoenix has interest in him, but I don’t know how that will go. They wanted to move Cam Johnson because they were frustrated that he didn’t playing that many games last year and he was hurt this year to start the season. But he played 66 games last year, and that’s like 20-something more than O.G. So I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Said another general manager, “Toronto wants a good price for Anunoby, but I’m not they’re going to get what they want at this time of the season unless they’re just, like, done and fed up — which they could be. He’s a good kid, but he’s a little odd.”

Raptors Looking to Deal Now or Later?

The large issue for the Raptors is deciding whether they believe they can win by adding some pieces or if getting good again will necessitate breaking down the roster for a larger project.

“I don’t know if that’s the case NOW,” the latter GM told Heavy. “I don’t know if they have to decide in the next week. At some point you have to decide that, but not necessarily in February.

“Trading at the deadline, you have limitations. You can only do certain things. A lot of things that make sense won’t work mathematically, but if you wait until the summer, it can be easier to do what you want. It’s much easier to reshape in June and July than it is in February, because you’re limited now in how many things are available mathematically.”

But, he added, the trade market could explode if Toronto starts finding deals it likes now.

“They’ve got a whole lot of guys that would be very attractive to teams that think they’re a piece or two away from having a chance to win it,” he said.


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