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Sun’s biggest mistake at the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline


With the best record in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns don’t seem to need a ton of tinkering on its roster. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Nonetheless, Phoenix did make some moves prior to the February 10 trade deadline last week. They brought back Torrey Craig, who played a bench role for the Suns in their Finals run last year. Phoenix also traded for Aaron Holiday to add to their backcourt depth.

While Craig and Holiday are solid additions to an already championship-caliber roster, the Suns missed the boat on acquiring one of their reported targets ahead of the deadline: Thaddeus Young.

Phoenix was reportedly interesting in bringing in the 33-year old. Likewise, the San Antonio Spurs reportedly had interest in the Suns’ 2020 top 10 pick Jalen Smith. The deal seemed like a match as Phoenix could have packaged Dario Saric’s $8.5 million salary along with Smith’s. This would have been enough to land the veteran, while the Spurs received a 21-year old big man they can develop with their young core.

Instead, the Spurs sent Young along with Drew Eubanks north of the border to the Toronto Raptors, while taking back Goran Dragic, whom they eventually bought out.

Young won’t be the difference between a championship or not for Phoenix by any means. But he at least addresses one of their positional needs. At 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, young is capable of playing both the four and and some small ball five.

The Suns had utilized Dario Saric in that role before he went down with a torn ACL in last year’s Finals and they haven’t had that option since. Phoenix has also tried to use Cameron Johnson in that role, but he lacks the strength in the paint to handle some of the bulkier small centers in the league. While he doesn’t give the kind of spacing Saric or Johnson can, Young could have been the guy to fill that need for a combo big.

Phoenix may already be set with their center rotation. Deandre Ayton has emerged as a young star in this league and has embraced his role as this team’s defensive anchord. JaVale McGee has become that reliable backup who can get easy baskets at the rim and bother shots on the other end. Bismack Biyombo, whom Phoenix signed for the rest of the year after initially being on a 10-day deal, has reinvigorated his career with Phoenix.

Still, Young offers the Suns a more versatile option in certain matchups. At 33, he still possesses the athleticism he had in his youth and is shifty enough to switch onto guards and wings on the perimeter. And if the Suns want to go big with one of their traditional centers, the lefty is an option they could also slot into power forward for added length and defense.

In 26 appearances before he fell off the Spurs rotation, Young averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He won’t be a sun for this season at least. But he could find his way to Phoenix eventually if they target him as a free agent this upcoming summer.


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