PHOENIX – The Suns’ trade of guard Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee for forward Greg Monroe and a future first-round draft pick is another step in accelerating the team’s rebuilding process, general manager Ryan McDonough said.
The team is “open to any scenario” involving Monroe, 27, including playing him, trading for more future assets or buying out his contract in order to further clear salary cap room, he said. With Bledsoe’s departure, the team has already cleared around $15 million worth of space for a future signing or trade.
“We continue to add to our stable of draft picks, we’ve created more salary cap flexibility going forward in this deal, and we’re excited to welcome Greg to Phoenix,” McDonough said.
The draft pick acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks has a variety of different restrictions, as year-by-year Milwaukee is protected if the trade is high enough in the draft. The Suns will acquire the pick in the 2018 draft only if the selection lands between the 11-16th pick.
Despite not being able to take a player in the top four spots until potentially 2021, the first year the pick is completely unprotected, McDonough said the team could still find another talented young contributor.
“We got Devin Booker and T.J. Warren in that range, 13th and 14th picks in the draft, and those guys are, in my opinion, two of the top young wings in the league. So, I think there’s value in the pick,” he said.
Hoping to stockpile multiple young, solid players and draft picks to create a core of that could be together for many years, McDonough said that the coming offseason, or even that of 2019, may be the time when the team pushes all its chips in to try and acquire an All-NBA-level player.
“I think, if you look at the broader picture league-wide, we’re hopefully at the top of the list or near the top of the list as far as teams that could put together a compelling package for a star,” he said.
Though the looming trade could have created a distraction, Triano said that not having Bledsoe is not a large adjustment for him to make as a coach, as he has not been available since Triano took over in October.
He also said the team has been happy with the play of its two main point guards, Mike James and Tyler Ulis. Because the Suns have not yet traded either player, or acquired another guard to replace them in the rotation, it is an opportunity for the young guards to just focus on playing.
“I guess if guys were looking over their shoulder, thinking they might be thrown into a deal, it affects them, but to be honest I’m locked in to who’s here and who’s playing for us.”
If the team does, in fact, decide to stick with Monroe for the future, or at least for the rest of this season, he could provide depth at either the center or power forward spot.
Monroe is able to play either position effectively and was a sixth-man-of-the-year candidate in the 2016-17 season for the Bucks. Triano is excited about both his skill and his experience as a contributor for a playoff team.
“Low post presence, being a solid guy inside, a guy you can throw the ball into and find a way to manufacture points,” he said.