Lottery Will Finalize Assets, Start Offseason Clock

by Matt Petersen

There’s a 98.2-percent chance of Phoenix’s summer hand holding three mid-to-late first-round picks, upwards of $20 million in cap space and a plethora of young talent.

The Suns -- like the rest of the teams involved in the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night -- will wait to move forward with their plans until the outlying possibility is accounted for by ping pong balls.

If Phoenix hits the odds-defying jackpot, it will add an incredible trump card to their already loaded hand, which will remain intact thanks to (hypothetically) Minnesota’s pick dropping from 13 to 14 – out of its top-13 protection and into the Suns’ hands due to the Wesley Johnson trade from two years ago.

Whether or not that happens, Tuesday will mark the end of an offseason holding pattern. Once the draft order is set, Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough can get started on his offseason laundry list.

It includes:

  • Working out draft prospects who would be potentially available when the Suns are on the clock
  • Entertaining or fielding trade offers. Fixed draft picks are easier to include in trade packages with a clear conscience than a nebulous pick that could come back to haunt you (i.e. the Clippers trading an unprotected first-rounder to Cleveland that ended up being Kyrie Irving)
  • Mixing and matching prospects and trade targets with the current needs on the Suns’ roster, whether by position or skill set

McDonough and his team will be both active and thoughtful throughout the process, much as they were last summer (though with an extra season’s worth of experience).

Whether by draft, trade or (in July) free agency, they will be mindful of how any additions/subtractions will affect the team’s on-court performance and locker room presence.

All of this requires an enormous amount of communication with draft prospects, other teams and -- most importantly -- internally.

One of the biggest reasons the Suns flipped their fortunes in just a season was the trust within its braintrust. When the Eric Bledsoe deal surfaced as a legitimate possibility last summer, McDonough asked Hornacek how he envisioned a Dragic/Bledsoe backcourt working out before pulling the trigger on the trade. McDonough, Hornacek and President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby were constantly and consistently on the same page since the trio joined forces last summer.

That’s not including the back-and-forth brainstorming and evaluating that needs to happen between scouts, coaches and upper management as the draft draws closer. Will a trade benefit in the short and long-term? How does a particular prospect’s workout and interview sessions compare/contrast with his work in college?

It’s a smorgasbord of business crammed into roughly a month.

The clock starts Tuesday night.