I thought that the most lopsided trade of the NBA off-season occurred last week when the San Antonio Spurs gave Jackie Butler and Luis Scola (A starting caliber PF) to the Rockets for a 2nd round draft pick and a player (Vassilis Spanoulis) that is never going to play in the NBA again.
Well, I was wrong.
The Phoenix Suns found a way to be even more charitable than the Spurs, as they executed the following trade with the Sonics:
"The Seattle SuperSonics acquired veteran forward Kurt Thomas and the Phoenix Suns' first-round draft choices in 2008 and 2010 on Friday in exchange for a conditional second-round draft choice.
Seattle also sent Phoenix its $8 million trade exception to complete the deal."
The reasoning of course, is that the Suns are trying to clear room so that they can keep the trio of Shawn Marion, Steve Nash, and Amare Stoudemire intact. That is a fine and good rationale in all reality. The way that the Suns are going about doing it however, is absolutely asinine. Lets start by looking at this trade. The Suns shipped two first rounders and an $8 million expiring contract for a conditional second round pick and an $8 million trade exception. The logic would be that getting rid of the first round picks gets rid of two guaranteed contracts down the line. The rest of the deal makes no sense however, as why on earth would a team that is looking to cut cap ever use an $8 million trade exception? The Suns won't use it, so the deal essentially breaks down as two first rounders and Kurt Thomas for a conditional second round pick.
Now, combine this with the fact that the Suns have sold two first round picks in the past two years for a combined $6 million in cash, and now we have a problem. That is four first round picks gone with only one on-court asset coming back to the Suns. Well, one asset if the conditional second round pick from the latest trade is ever triggered. What the Suns are doing right now is sacrificing their future to avoid the luxury tax. Look at it this way; could the Suns have traded each of those four first round picks for a second rounder and a little cash instead of the deals they made? If they had employed that strategy they could have at least had four players to stash in the D-League or Europe, and if Steve Kerr can evaluate talent at all at least one or two of those picks would likely pan out in time.
Here is the truth; these moves are setting the Suns up for disaster as soon as Steve Nash exits the stage. There will be no smooth transition, no minor dip in performance. The team will shatter. Do you really think Shawn Marion will stick around once Nash is gone? No way. Then the Suns will be left with a core of Leandro Barbosa, Stoudemire, and Boris Diaw (whose nearly $10 million a year contract is what is causing all this trouble in the first place). Too bad they won't have any young talent left to ease the transition. It'll all be playing in Seattle.