Friday, October 19, 2018

Steve Nash for..a mid-2nd round pick?

The Phoenix Suns moved on from Ryan McDonough last week.  McDonough’s tenure will be remembered for the collection of assets, the timeline, and an extended playoff drought.  On my blog I review trades from various sports and I take a look at the long term implications and outcomes.  To review some of Ryan McDonough’s failures as a general manager, I will start with a trade that happened before he arrived in Phoenix.

Trade 1:
Phoenix Suns Receive:
2013 Los Angeles Lakers 1st Round Pick
2013 Los Angeles Lakers 2nd Round Pick
2014 Los Angeles Lakers 2nd Round Pick
2015 Los Angeles Lakers 1st Round Pick (protected through 2018)

Los Angeles Lakers Receive:
Steve Nash, PG

Yes, Ryan McDonough’s career as a general manager was destined to fail as a result of the Steve Nash trade that took place nearly a year before he became the general manager.  Steve Nash gave the Phoenix Suns a parting gift on his way out of town by agreeing to a sign and trade with the Lakers that netted the Suns 4 draft picks.  The most valuable of those picks was the 2015 1st Round Pick.  The chart below shows how the Steve Nash trade eventually led to a series of disastrous trades bringing down Ryan McDonough. 

Cascade Trade #1
The 2014 2nd Round pick was dealt before McDonough's tenure, weeks after trading Steve Nash, for an opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle in Wesley Johnson.  Wesley Johnson was gone before McDonough arrived as the GM. 

Cascade Trade #2
After McDonough came on board, he made a draft-night trade and swapped Nemanja Nedovic, the 2013 1st Round Pick, for Archie Goodwin and Malcom Lee.  Goodwin played for the Suns for three years.  He was a young player with potential that never developed.  Lee was later included as a salary piece in another trade. 

Cascade Trade #3
The Laker’s 2nd Round pick in 2013 might have actually turned out to be the most productive piece of the Steve Nash trade.  McDonough used it to draft Alex Oriakhi with the 57th pick.  Oriakhi never saw a regular season game in the NBA.  But he was traded a year later as a piece of the sign and trade that brought Isaiah Thomas to the Suns.   

Cascade Trade #4
The remaining pick from the Steve Nash trade was originally a 2015 pick.  But it was top 5 protected and did not convey.  It was top 3 protected in 2016 and 2017.  Steve Nash did not bring success to the Lakers and they were mired in the bottom of the NBA after his departure.  They were so bad, that they drafted 2nd in 2015, 2016, and 2017.  The Suns were too impatient to deal with the ups and downs of waiting for the pick.  They traded it in 2015 for Brandon Knight.

McDonough not only gave up the valuable Lakers pick, he also included Tyler Ennis, the 16th overall pick in the 2014 draft that he acquired a year earlier for Marcin Gortat.  Brandon Knight started 64 games for the Suns over three and a half seasons.  A year after acquiring him, the Suns handcuffed their salary cap by signing him to a 5 year, $70,000,000 contact to go along with the 5 year, $70,000,000 contact they paid to another Point Guard, Eric Bledsoe, the previous year.  This faith in Knight was based on a sample size of 11 games with the Suns before he was injured. 

The Suns essentially traded Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat for a couple of seasons on the bench for Archie Goodwin, 64 starts from Brandon Knight, 50 games of Wesley Johnson, and a half season of Isaiah Thomas and Tyler Ennis. 

If that were the only blemish on McDonough’s record, it might be enough to justify keeping him for as long as Robert Sarver did.  But it is not. 

De’Anthony Melton was the 46th pick in the 2018 NBA draft.  Ryan Anderson is a 30-year-old power forward who has started less than half of his career games and is due to make at least $35million over the next two seasons.  Both of those players are on the Suns this year as a result of the Steve Nash trade and several other trades by McDonough.

Phoenix Suns Receive:
De’Anthony Melton
Ryan Anderson

Houston Rockets Receive:
Marquese Chriss
Brandon Knight

I have already mapped out how Brandon Knight ended up in Phoenix.  Marquese Chriss did not come to Phoenix until a series of other trades took place.  The trades leading to Chriss coming to Phoenix are so convoluted, the only way to look at them is to go backwards.

Reverse Cascade Trade#1:
Phoenix Suns Receive:
Marquese Chriss

Sacramento Kings Receive:
2016 1st Round Pick (13th)
2016 1st Round Pick (28th)
Bogdan Bogdanovic
2020 2nd Round Pick

The Phoenix Suns wanted Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender in the 2016 draft.  They drafted Bender with the 4th pick and they were able to get Chriss by giving up two other 2016 1st Round Picks, the 2014 1st Round Pick Bogdan Bogdanovic (still in Europe at that time), and a 2020 2nd Round Pick acquired from Detroit. 

Reverse Cascade Trade #2:
Phoenix Suns Receive:
2020 2nd Round Pick

Detroit Pistons Receive:
Marcus Morris

The Suns needed to trade Marcus Morris to free up cap space to chase LaMarcus Aldridge.  It was a swing-for-the-fences move that did not work out.  Aldridge went to the Spurs and the Suns were left with a 2020 2ndround pick and an angry twin brother, Markieff Morris. 

Reverse Cascade Trade #3:
Phoenix Suns Receive:
2016 1st Round Pick

Washington Wizards Receive:
Markieff Morris

After trading his twin brother without notifying him first, Markieff Morris was upset with the Suns.  This anger was directed at Ryan McDonough.  To McDonough’s credit, he was able to get a late-lottery pick for a player that was clearly done playing for the Suns. 

Reverse Cascade Trade #4:
Phoenix Suns Receive:
Gerald Green
Miles Plumlee
2014 1st Round Pick

Indiana Pacers Receive:
Luis Scola

Prior to McDonough’s arrival, the Suns put a claim in on Luis Scola.  Scola was released by the Rockets in a cost saving move and the Suns were awarded his contract.  Scola played well for the Suns and McDonough was able to move him for a first round pick and two players that became productive role players during their time in Phoenix.  The first round pick was used to draft and stash Bogdan Bogdanovic with the 27th pick.  Bogdonovic did not come to the United States until the 17-18 season after being traded to Sacramento.  In his rookie season he played in 78 games and was selected as an All-Rookie 2nd Team.

Reverse Cascade Trade #5
Phoenix Suns Receive:
2016 1st Round Pick

Boston Celtics Receive:
Isaiah Thomas

The player that connects the Steve Nash trade and the Marquese Chriss trade, Isaiah Thomas was sent to Boston after being unhappy with his playing time.  He spent a half season with Phoenix, starting 1 game.  His next two seasons in Boston he became an All-Star, All-NBA 2nd team, and was 3rd in the NBA in points. 

McDonough’s career in Phoenix will be remembered for bizarre moves like going from 3 starting point guards, to 2 starting point guards, to 0 starting point guards.  He did make some savvy moves while in Phoenix to acquire assets.  Getting 1st round picks for Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat will be impressive notes for his resume.  But the failure to do anything productive with those assets is why he’s unemployed (though still getting paid!).  To get De’Anthony Melton and Ryan Anderson, he essentially traded 5 first round picks.  I didn’t even mention that he also traded Goran Dragic in his prime for two 1st round picks that were just used to get back one of the other picks he previously traded away.  Despite all of the talk of acquiring assets, he squandered those assets with little to show for them.  Going back and looking at the outcomes of the trades is not only depressing for Suns fans, it should serve as a warning for NBA GMs as they try to accelerate a rebuild that isn’t going to be made quicker by drafting 18 year olds that are still learning how to play basketball. 

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Steve Nash for..a mid-2nd round pick?

The Phoenix Suns moved on from Ryan McDonough last week.  McDonough’s tenure will be remembered for the collection of assets, the timeline,...