The Phoenix Suns have arguably the most star-powered roster in the NBA after adding Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal to a roster that already featured All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker. But even though the height of the free agency period has concluded, and most teams have begun to set their sights on the opening of training camp, the Suns still may not be done making moves to bolster their roster.
According to Duane Rankin of AZ Central, the Suns are keeping tabs on several players who could become available via trade in the coming weeks, including Philadelphia 76ers 10-time All-Star James Harden.
“After signing Bol Bol in NBA free agency earlier this month, it appeared that the Phoenix Suns might be done making changes to their roster in the offseason. But NBA trade speculation and rumors surrounding the team continue to circulate on social media and in stories. And some very interesting names are included in the speculation,” Rankin writes.
“James Harden, Killian Hayes, and T.J. McConnell are among the names swirling as potential acquisitions for the Suns, while Deandre Ayton’s name continues to show up as a potential trade chip for Phoenix. Any moves from the Suns would require some creative thinking and maneuvering due to Phoenix’s current salary cap situation.”
Suns Could Use Deandre Ayton as Trade Bait for James Harden
After making trades for Beal and Durant, the Suns have exhausted most of their trade assets. And adding a former NBA MVP in Harden could be difficult with so little to offer. But there is another route the Suns could go if they were interested in exploring a Harden Deal. Luke Duffy of Fansided says the Suns could put their starting center Deandre Ayton on the trading block in hopes to pry Harden from the Sixers.
“The only conceivable way then that the Suns could hope to still add Harden if they wanted to, would be in a deal that sent center Deandre Ayton to the 76ers. That makes no sense for the other team in this theoretical deal, however, because as of this moment, their best player is league MVP and dominant big man Joel Embiid. He is going nowhere. For now,” Duffy said via Fansided.
“What about getting a little crazier with this one, and sending Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard to the 76ers, and Harden to the Suns? Despite Lillard insisting on going to the Miami Heat, he would form a fierce duo with Embiid. Ayton in Portland alongside Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe kickstarts that rebuild too.”
James Harden Sounds off on Damian Lillard
Harden opted into the final year of his two-year $68 million deal with Philadelphia but has still expressed a desire to be traded by the franchise after suffering consecutive second-round exits. But he is not the only disgruntled star seeking a change of scenery this offseason. So too is Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard. Harden was asked about Lillard’s trade demand in a recent interview with USA Today and gave an interesting perspective.
“I see both sides of it. I see both sides because I went through it… (The organization doesn’t) want to just give a player that basically is one of the best players that they have ever had in their organization away for nothing. So, I get the organization’s side. And then I get the player’s side as far as wanting to play and wanting to be somewhere,” Harden said.
“That person has done so many great things for your organization, your franchise. But then, you don’t want to give that player away for nothing. So, I get both sides. Just find a balance, meet in the middle, and hopefully, both sides can come to an agreement.”