The Phoenix Suns, who have the fifth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, would really like to see Cody Zeller becoming one of their players, but they won’t use a top 5 pick on him. However, by using Marcin Gortat (who wants to leave) as trade bait, they’re hoping that the Portland Trail Blazers use the 10th pick on the Indiana star before trading between the two.
The Blazers have one of the more cap-friendly situations in the NBA heading into the 2013-2014 NBA season, currently with $44.1 million on the books, more than half of that going to LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, while arguably their best player, Damian Lillard, is on his rookie deal, giving him $3.2 million next season.
Gortat is entering the final year of his contract, which usually means big seasons for players and especially centers, who are always candidates to get bigger deals than they actually deserve. Gortat is owed $7.7 million for next season, something the Blazers have no problem fitting in, and even better, is a move that actually makes them a better team in the short run, hoping Gortat plays like he did in 2011-2012 (15.4 points, 10 rebounds per game) and possibly becoming a more long-term investment.
Cody Zeller didn’t have the sophomore season he and the Hoosiers were dreaming about, but he did average 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds as Indiana won the Big Ten (Regular season title) and reached the Sweet Sixteen for a second straight year. He played as a center in college, but in the NBA he’s more than likely to make the transition to the 4, with scouts comparing him to Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s been one of the most impressive players in the workouts and draft combine so far, probably getting the biggest boost to his stock out of all the players.
The Suns would gladly get rid of Gortat’s contract, putting them at $41 million for next season, and hoping Ben McLemore is still available when their numbers gets called up. They’re missing quite a few pieces before becoming a playoff team again, so it’s really predict what they’ll do with their pick, mostly depending on the best player available probably, but Gortat isn’t really someone they’re counting on to lead them in the future.
Zeller? It’s still a bit early to say if he’ll really be as good as Aldridge or Bosh have been throughout their NBA careers, which means All-Star caliber player, but he’s showing promising signs. The Blazers need a natural, solid center more than they need Zeller, which means this deal might work out quite well for them if all the pieces fall at the right time, in the right place.