Suns GM Ryan McDonough and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have a history together, and it shows. Phoenix and Boston have made three trades with each other in the past year, meaning they’ve hooked up on deals more often in that timeframe than any other two NBA teams. McDonough, who spent several years working under Ainge in the Celtics organization before the Suns hired him in 2013, called on his old boss frequently, most notably sending Isaiah Thomas to Boston on deadline day. Ainge and McDonough also got involved with Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers, whom they worked with when he was Celtics coach, with the Celtics funneling Austin Rivers to L.A. with the help of Phoenix, which absorbed Reggie Bullock‘s contract.
Bullock later resurfaced when McDonough and the Suns pulled off their second trade of the year with the Pistons. McDonough doesn’t have the sort of history with either Pistons president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy or GM Jeff Bower that he does with Ainge, but that didn’t prevent Phoenix and Detroit from twice trading with each other. The Suns cleared cap space in both cases, with the first swap helping facilitate Phoenix’s acquisition of Brandan Wright from Ainge and the Celtics. The second deal was the controversial trade that sent Marcus Morris, along with Bullock and Danny Granger, out of Phoenix and away from twin brother Markieff Morris. Time will tell if it leads to yet another Suns-Pistons trade, since Detroit is reportedly interested in Markieff, too.
A McDonough-Ainge scenario was at play as the Sixers and Rockets collaborated on a pair of trades. Philly GM Sam Hinkie helped his former boss and Rockets GM Daryl Morey bolster his roster for a Western Conference Finals run when he sent Alexey Shved to Houston as part of a three-team deal that also saw the Timberwolves ship Corey Brewer to the Rockets. Morey in turn helped Hinkie recoup value for K.J. McDaniels, who signed a one-year deal in 2014 instead of accepting Hinkie’s long-term offer. The Rockets sent Isaiah Canaan, who’s started 11 games so far this season for Philadelphia, to the Sixers in return for McDaniels, and Morey chipped in a second-round pick in that deal, too.
Here’s a breakdown of the assets changing hands among trade partners who made multiple deals with each other in the past calendar year:
Suns-Celtics (3 times)
- January 9th — Suns get Brandan Wright. Celtics get Minnesota’s 2015 first-round pick (top-12 protected).
- *January 15th — Suns get Reggie Bullock (from Clippers). Celtics get Shavlik Randolph.
- February 19th — Suns get Marcus Thornton and Cleveland’s 2016 first-round pick (top-10 protected). Celtics get Isaiah Thomas.
Pistons-Suns (2 times)
- December 24th — Pistons get Anthony Tolliver. Suns get Tony Mitchell.
- July 9th — Pistons get Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger. Suns get Detroit’s 2020 second-round pick.
Rockets-Sixers (2 times)
- *December 19th — Rockets get Alexey Shved. Sixers get Houston’s 2015 second-round pick, and the rights to Serhiy Lishchuk.
- February 19th — Rockets get K.J. McDaniels. Sixers get Isaiah Canaan and the less favorable of Minnesota’s and Denver’s 2015 second-round picks.
* — Trades marked with asterisks also involved third teams.