The All-Star weekend celebrates the NBA’s finest and puts a hold on the Suns’ worst. The Suns are on pace to finish with the worst record in franchise history since the 1968-69 expansion team of cast-offs. The Suns have only hit the pause button on a 17-36 season. Phoenix, Dallas and Milwaukee are the only teams without a representative in any All-Star event this weekend. Until the Suns resume practice Monday, the Western Conference cellar dweller has a coaching staff re-evaluating the talent and system and a front office pondering self-improvement options before Thursday’s trade deadline, June’s draft and July’s free agency. Here are two pressing questions to weigh: Do the Suns make a trade? The chances are considered to be at least 50-50 that the Suns make some sort of trade before Thursday’s deadline. They are not in a position to think anyone on their roster is untouchable, except Luis Scola, who cannot be traded until July because he was an amnesty waiver claim. The magnitude of any deal is more in question. It would take acquiring a major piece of their rebuilding to sacrifice the salary-cap space that could be used on one maximum-salary free agent in July. The Suns also run the risk of improving their current team to the point of decreasing their NBA draft lottery odds. They are positioned to have their highest pick in 26 years. While Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat are most often rumored in trade scenarios, the more likely candidates would be veterans on expiring contracts such as Jermaine O’Neal and Sebastian Telfair. O’Neal has played better and been healthier than anyone imagined in his 17th year and could be of value as a backup center to a championship or playoff contender. “You want to stay and fight with the boys,” O’Neal said. “I don’t know what the team has planned.” For Telfair, he already has been relegated to a non-rotation role to make way for first-round draft pick Kendall Marshall at backup point guard. Telfair came to Phoenix two years ago in hopes of playing in the playoffs for the first time.
Phoenix Suns must pause, ponder personnel as NBA breaks
Arizona Republic | Feb 15