Most executives from other teams around the league said they wouldn’t have given up Isaiah Thomas and the Lakers’ protected first-rounder for what the Suns acquired in return at the deadline, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Phoenix ended up with Brandon Knight, Marcus Thornton and Cleveland’s 2016 top-10 protected first-round pick, as our trade deadline recap shows.
“Everybody loves the L.A. pick,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough told Lowe. “The concept of a pick is great, but it’s more of a sure thing to get a 23-year-old who is a borderline All-Star in the East.”
That 23-year-old is Knight, the soon-to-be restricted free agent whom the Bucks declined to trade straight-up for the Lakers pick, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com first reported and as Lowe reiterates. There are conflicting reports about whether Milwaukee turned down a Knight-for-Goran Dragic offer from the Suns, but several league sources tell Lowe that the Bucks indeed rejected such an offer. Lowe and others have plenty more from Phoenix:
- Suns coach Jeff Hornacek insisted to Lowe that the idea behind collecting Dragic, Thomas and Eric Bledsoe on the same roster before the season was to afford all three of them rest so they’d be fresh for the playoffs, as Lowe relays in the same piece.
- The Suns won’t spend money for the sake of spending it in free agency this summer, McDonough tells Lowe, who nonetheless believes it’s imperative that the Suns make the most of the additional cap flexibility that their deadline deals created.
- Steve Nash‘s retirement underscores just how well the Suns made out in the 2012 sign-and-trade that sent him to the Lakers, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic examines. Knight is the primary asset that the Suns snagged thanks to what they gained in the deal, Coro points out, though president of basketball operations Lon Babby believes there was a subtle cost that lingers. “It was among the most difficult, if not the most difficult, decisions we’ve had to make since I’ve been here…” Babby said of letting Nash go. “We made the right decision. I’m just disappointed it didn’t work out better for [Nash]. He defined our culture. To be honest about it, when you assess a trade like that, we gave up intangibles that we’re still trying to replace.”