The Phoenix Suns swung for the fences at the trade deadline, trading both Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas while also giving up the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers' top-five protected 2015 draft pick. Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough held a press conference following their moves, and Bryan Gibberman of Bright Side of the Sun had the chance to ask him a handful of questions.
The Lakers' front office knows the importance of retaining the top-five pick, as Mitch Kupchak recently revealed. The team has no interest in compromising their future salary and draft flexibility in order to patch up the current situation around Kobe Bryant. L.A. has the fourth-worst record in the NBA currently, depreciating the value of the pick they gave up to acquire Steve Nash.
The Suns wound up landing Brandon Knight and will have to deal with his restricted free agency, but they believe in the analytics around his game, as McDonough explains in the interview. As for the Lakers' pick, this is what McDonough said of it's value:
With a pick like that our analysis was that we probably weren't going to receive the pick this year. That pushes the pick into next year, the protection drops to three, but I think analyzing the Lakers situation there's pretty high variance there as to what the pick could be. If you ask me how the Lakers are going to be a year from now I have no idea. Obviously, they've struggled some recently, but they're going to have a lot of salary cap space this summer and they're in a market that's traditionally been one of the top draws for free agents.
The Suns are conceding the Lakers are on a trajectory to retain the pick, which is a huge admission from a front office. The Lakers' 2016 first-round pick will transfer to Philadelphia, but it's top-three protection means it could land anywhere but the very top, where it'd hurt the Lakers the most.
Faith in the Lakers turning it around while keeping the top-five pick, from the team that traded the draft rights away, is a good sign. The talent there is real, and Sam Hinkie is ready to roll the dice on a big win this season or still end up with a first-round pick to use as a trade asset or draft a player going forward.