One possible deal that doesn’t sound so far fetched is brewing at the moment, with the Toronto Raptors trying to see what the Phoenix Suns want for P.J. Tucker or maybe even Markieff Morris, although Tucker is the primary target for the Raptors.
This season is about more than just making the playoffs for the Raptors. It’s about winning a series and maybe even challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have as good of a shot as anyone else to do it, right now quite comfortable at second in the East, 2.5 games behind the Cavs and five games ahead of the teams trying to displace them at number two. But even though this season marks another step forward for the franchise, Masai Ujiri knows they need more.
The Suns, on the other hand, are trending downwards. They’ve fired Jeff Hornacek and seem to be in complete freefall, losing their best player, Eric Bledsoe, to a season ending injury. T.J. Warren is also out for a long time, which means more opportunities for Archie Goodwin and Devin Booker to develop and show their stuff, but while losing a lot of games. And that’s not tanking, that’s just being bad, which means they’re open to offers, including for someone like Tucker who isn’t happy, or someone like Morris, who might be happier now that Hornacek is gone, at least judging by his 30-point performance under Earl Watson, the interim head coach.
The two players offer something very different. Tucker is one of the best defensive small forwards in the NBA who can also guard bigger players and probably shooting guards too. He scores just 6.8 points per game and is a decent shooter (35.1% from beyond the arc) and he’s on a decent contract, carrying through the 2016-2017 season, making $5.3 million that year, which is almost peanuts with a $90 million salary cap or something around that number.
The Suns would love a first round pick for him, but maybe the Raptors can come up with a bundle that doesn’t include losing too much, although it’s hard to see how Phoenix agree to anything less than a first round or at least two second round picks. Does Morris come with the deal or separately? He does offer some nice inside scoring and rebounds, and when he’s motivated he’s a very good player, but being on a $8 million per season deal through the 2018-2019 season might make it difficult to find him a team right now, unless he bumps up his numbers and doesn’t have any more disciplinary issues.
Tucker is the one the Raptors want, but Morris, who probably would be happy being closer to his brother (playing in Detroit) could give them an extra something without having to give up too much for him. Right now the Suns don’t seem too eager to make any early moves, waiting for the deadline to be a bit closer, with the stakes going higher, and teams willing to offer more. They’re in no rush. They’re going to finish at the bottom of the West in any case.