The Phoenix Suns need more adults in the room and the San Antonio Spurs need youth, so a swap of wings could bode well for both organizations.
Being that the Phoenix Suns are one of the worst-run organizations in professional sports, it’s surprising to see them enter the Orlando Bubble as the second-to-last of the 22 teams invited. Just one spot behind the San Antonio Spurs in the standings, Phoenix is 2.0 games behind the 12th seed and 6.0 games out from the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
The probability that either team makes the playoffs is slim-to-none, but they’re trending in opposite directions. As the Spurs roll out their youngest team in years, the Suns worked this past offseason to surround their young stars with veterans to help build a winning atmosphere. It didn’t work out too well after a hot start to the season, as injury trouble and an extended suspension for last year’s No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton derailed them early on.
And yet, the Suns remain a decent candidate to break out next season if they play their cards right. One way to do so without leveraging their future is to go all-in on a former All-NBA caliber player to form their own Big Three in Phoenix and a swap with the San Antonio Spurs could be the way to achieve that goal.
The Phoenix Suns get a one-year rental on DeMar DeRozan and the San Antonio Spurs get a one-year rental on Kelly Oubre Jr.
There’s no denying that DeMar DeRozan is an objectively better player than Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr., but the 6-foot-7 23-year-old fits San Antonio’s timeline and on-court needs much better than DeRozan does at this point in his career. The Spurs would lose out on major shot creation and facilitating from DeRozan, but they’d gain a more athletic wing who can defend multiple positions and fits perfectly with the budding youth movement.
Oubre averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 boards and 1.3 steals – each of which was a career-best – in 53 games this season for a team that desperately needed a push in the right direction. His team was 2.7 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor this season and he tied with Mikal Bridges for the top spot in terms of Defensive Win Shares (1.9) with over 150 more minutes logged than his lengthy teammate.
Drafted 15th overall in 2015, Oubre has gotten better with every season of his career, but he’s going to get tired of losing sooner or later. Unless Phoenix is willing to overpay him to stay, there’s a solid chance he’d take his talent and pride elsewhere in the 2021 free agency.
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Being that Oubre is a showman and a team-first kind of player, joining an organization like San Antonio would be a great opportunity for Oubre to fulfill his potential and learn from the best. He addresses immediate needs in floor-spacing, two-way effort and size on the wing. These skills would fit beautifully with the trifecta of young guards (Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV) that the Spurs have been grooming.
Meanwhile, it’d give the Suns a more established, veteran player whose experience as a leader and incredible work ethic could help set a tone for his teammates in Phoenix. While both DeRozan and Booker generally need the ball in their hands, they’re also both incredibly unselfish players who could play off of each other well.
As Booker works the perimeter, DeRozan could use his gravity and slashing to open up the floor for the former 3-point Champion and get Devin the easiest looks he’s ever had. With the exception of Ricky Rubio, DeRozan would be the best playmaker Booker’s ever played with from the moment he touches down in Sky Harbor.
San Antonio would take on big man Frank Kaminsky’s expiring $5 million deal after a mediocre season in The Valley. The former A.P. Player of the Year averaged 11 points and 4.9 boards off the bench this season, falling short on the 3-point shooting and inside presence that Phoenix hoped he could provide for them.
If you want to check out the first installment of this series with a trade with the Golden State Warriors, click here!