I may be wrong. I may be crazy. But Ryan McDonough just may be the lunatic I've been waiting for.
According to my scorecard, so far, so great for the Suns' new GM.
If you are a Suns fan and you hate the trades that sent Jared Dudley to the Clippers and Luis Scola to the Pacers, then you know enough about basketball to recognize Dudley is more polished than Eric Bledsoe and Scola is simply a better player than Gerald Green.
But if you are a Suns fan and you like the recent trades, that means you see the big picture. You see the forest, and not just the trees.
A month ago I wrote an article about "lottery picks and cap space" being the two main ingredients for turning around a struggling NBA franchise. The article included five contracts the Suns should try to move before the start of the 2014-15 season. McDonough has already dealt two of the five with months to spare before the 2013-14 season. Why, it's as if he's carrying around the list and checking off the names one shrewd move at a time, like I'd entered him into a scavenger hunt.
By moving Scola and Dudley, the team has gotten younger, more athletic and yes, potentially worse, which happens to be a good thing. The team has also created playing time for Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Bledsoe, Green, and any other young player the organization would like a deeper evaluation of before determining future commitments. Plus, McDonough has freed cap space for next season and added a third 2014 first round pick for what is expected to be the most talented class of rookies since the LeBron draft.
So, now what?
Three of those five contracts remain. Whether McDonough wants to admit it or not, and for the record he's publicly denied it, I think the Eric Bledsoe-Goran Dragic backcourt pairing is about experimenting and perhaps ultimately deciding which of the two is the team's point guard of the future. So, I don't expect Dragic to be moved unless Bledsoe's talents are uncorked with expanded minutes, thereby making Dragic expendable.
That leaves Michael Beasley and Channing Frye. It's not fair of me to assess Frye's health status. And Beasley, well, Beasley might be impossible to move. Unless! He could be cleverly included in a deal with Marcin Gortat?
The Suns need to trade Gortat. They can, and perhaps should, wait until the trade deadline, but for a rebuilding team to risk letting an unhappy commodity walk as a free agent at the end of the season without receiving compensation makes no sense. Let Gortat start the year as a Sun, let him help with Alex Len's transition to the NBA, feature him so that his trade value increases, and then get what you can for him before the deadline.
And I just so happen to think you could get quite a lot for a 29-year-old, athletic 7-footer, who averaged 15 & 10 just one season ago, and 13 & 9 over the course of the last three seasons. There aren't 10 centers in the league who are 13 & 9. And at a manageable salary of $7 million, that's called value, people.
This offseason is not about 2013-14. Truth is, the worse the Suns are this year the better. No, this summer is all about the future. And the good news is, Suns fans, Ryan McDonough seems to get it.