The Suns have the fifth overall pick in next week’s NBA Draft, and due to a combination of both their own needs and the uncertainty about how the four picks before theirs are going to shake out, the team is wisely preparing for a wide variety of scenarios.
At least one of those might see Phoenix looking to trade Marcin Gortat, should one of the draft’s coveted big men fall to them at the five slot.
If the Suns go big, it would be because [Nerlens Noel] plummeted unexpectedly, but not impossibly, to No. 5. Noel, 19, is a 7-footer with premier shot-blocking skills and athleticism but is going through knee rehabilitation for a surgically repaired ACL. Len, a 7-footer from Ukraine, is a more versatile big man who Suns scouts have liked for his upside as a rebounder, paint protector and scorer who is also 19.
A big-man acquisition could spur trade talk involving center Marcin Gortat, particularly with the Suns being open to the idea of landing another first-round pick. Portland, which holds the No. 10 pick, has held an interest in Gortat and a draft slot like that could be used on a big man like Indiana’s athletically and fundamentally solid Cody Zeller or Pittsburgh’s raw-but-rising Steven Adams.
Gortat is a more-than-serviceable center who averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game with the Suns last season. But he’s shown an inability to completely mesh with point guard Goran Dragic, and the rebuilding Suns might be more interested in flipping the 29-year old in exchange for younger assets.
If Phoenix does decide to move Gortat, they should be able to get something more than decent in return. Gortat is in the final year of an affordable contract that pays him just over $7 million next season, so even if a team isn’t sold on Gortat’s fit with their franchise, they’ll certainly be enticed by an expiring deal that will free up some cap space for the following season.