Should Phoenix tank or win?

The expected signing of former Sun Leandro Barbosa indicates a willingness to be aggressive about short-term wins, so how anxious are the Suns about making a blockbuster deal? They can afford to be buyers in the superstar market, but they also have to make sure the fit is right. Ideally, they'd like to add a superlative talent who is young enough to grow with the team and has a flexible contract situation.

I asked a rival team executive how he assesses the Suns and what he would do in their position, and he said "the players who have outperformed their expectations are players on the periphery and not really foundational franchise building blocks. It will be difficult for them to acquire a top-tier talent based on those pieces alone." He went on to say that the best play for the short term would be to keep the core together, but eventually they would probably have to part with Dragic in order to make a blockbuster deal: "He's their best trade asset as their best player with a reasonable contract."

My take

Phoenix has put itself in a position similar to what Houston faced prior to acquiring James Harden: The Suns have a nice mix of talent, youth, cap flexibility and picks to put together a package for a star. Like the Rockets, they'll need some luck for a star and his current team to not see eye-to-eye on the long-term viability of their marriage.

As of today, the Suns own three picks in the upcoming draft: their own (currently slotted at 22nd), Indiana's (30th) and Washington's (18th). That's not an enticing enough a package (although the Lakers' 2015 pick would be an interesting case study in betting on futures) to deal at the moment, but historically we see the value of lower first-round picks rise around draft day, so it might be prudent to wait. The last thing to do is to blow those picks on a deal that ends up being a lateral move.

Another reason to preach patience goes back to what the rival executive said: Dragic is their best trade asset. It would be unwise to move Dragic without some sort of resolution on the Bledsoe re-signing, as he provides what amounts to an insurance policy should a ridiculous offer sheet come down the pike. A draft-day deal would not ensure any knowledge of that occurring, but it gives the team a better chance at acquiring a bona fide star prior to committing to Bledsoe.

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