After a dizzying series of moves in July that will lead to plenty of new faces this fall, the Suns still want to make one more big move to cap things off. But more tweaking is necessary to get the job done.
A week after jettisoning the contract of Josh Childress through amnesty, adding Luis Scola with a surprising move and collecting draft picks in dealing Steve Nash, the Suns did more of the same. A three-team deal with Minnesota and New Orleans shed the awful contract of Hakim Warrick, moved underachieving center Robin Lopez and added both small forward Wesley Johnson and another future first-round pick.
The pick the Suns received is lottery-protected for four years and would become two second-round picks if they don't receive it in that span. If it's a first-rounder, it could be one of Minnesota's own picks or one it is owed from Memphis.
Johnson, who hasn't blossomed in the two years since he was drafted fourth overall by the T-wolves, averaged almost 21 points a game in the Vegas Summer League and would join Shannon Brown and Jared Dudley as the players vying for time at shooting guard. And the Suns would pay about $300,000 more this season, with a team option next year, to cut Johnson loose and spend the money currently locked down in Warrick on further upgrades.
The Suns will miss Lopez -- who with the departure of Steve Nash and Grant Hill would be the Suns player with the most service time with the franchise -- as a backup to Marcin Gortat in the middle. But the $4 million qualifying offer, which would leave him as a free agent next summer, is a little steep for the brief flashes of effectiveness he has shown.
Even if the final move goes through, it won't do much to return the Suns to contender status -- or even a favorite to earn a Western Conference playoff spot for just the second time in five years. But the page will have been turned, the roster overhauled and the assets acquired to give the franchise a brighter future.
Hill, who like Nash said he wanted to return to Phoenix but intimated he wasn't asked back, also wound up in Los Angeles but surprisingly signed with the Clippers rather than joining Nash and the Lakers. The move left the 32-year-old Scola as the oldest player on the Phoenix roster.
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