It seemed like a foregone conclusion that if the Phoenix Suns make a trade at this year’s deadline, Nassir Little would be included. Little hasn’t played significant minutes in several weeks, and since he’s on one of the team’s hottest contracts, it looked like he was going to be moved.
But he didn’t want that, so general manager James Jones threw a curveball and let Little go in the trade that brought the Suns Royce O’Neal and David Roddy. Instead, Jones decided to collect at least four contracts to complete the purchase. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to matter whether Little or the other four are included in the deal.
However, with many of the recent CBA changes set to go into effect next season, it makes more sense for the Suns to hold off on trading Little, at least for now. Next season, the Suns, the second team on the apron, will not be able to add salary costs in a trade. That means they can’t make the same kind of trades they did by adding more minimums to match the salaries of high paid players.
In an alternate reality, if the Suns had traded Little on Thursday, the only trade pieces above the minimum they could receive at next year’s deadline would be Jusuf Nurkic, the re-signed Grayson Allen and Royce O’Neal.Unlike Little, these players are all part of the rotation and not parts that can be dealt for depth. The Suns would have to trade the minimum contract for another minimum contract that would not bring any significant value.So this line was a stroke of genius by Jones.
It’s incredible attention to detail that keeps Little as part of a trade for next season as the Nets agree to acquire four future free agents from the Suns’ rotation.In the end, the Suns didn’t trade Miles Bridges, which also helped them maintain their flexibility. That’s because the Charlotte Hornets would have rejected the minimum offer without the addition of Little. It would also be more difficult and much more expensive for the Suns to re-sign Bridges and Allen.
However, this extra flexibility is something to keep in mind in the bigger picture of not buying a bridge. There has been a misperception over the past year that the Suns sold their soul in building this team, especially with the addition of Durant. But that’s just typical fan talk, overindulgence of homegrown players and jealousy of other fans who didn’t bring the Suns star.
This is not the case with bridges. His legal history was well documented at this point and he remained unrepentant even after another violent incident a few months earlier. This move would have caused unnecessary anxiety in the team without them.This would also alienate a significant portion of their fan base. That fan base fell in love with this Suns team as we got to know all the new players. Doing anything to break this bond would be a big mistake.
At the time, it would not have been an overreaction to say that the Suns would sell their souls to build a bridge. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and both the team and the fans were able to move forward without a cloud in their heads. They made moves that gave them a great chance of winning. This is correct. But they did it by bringing in players of great character. There was no moral compromise.