Top 10 best Phoenix Suns trades of all time
Beal and Durant are only the latest and greatest, right Barkley? We rank the 10 greatest trades in Phoenix Suns’ franchise history.
The Phoenix Suns made the biggest trade of the 2023 offseason by acquiring Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards, allowing him to join Kevin Durant, who was acquired last season, and a host of other newcomer free agents including Eric Gordon, Josh Okogie, Bol Bol, and Yuta Watanabe.
They are the most stacked team in the NBA, with owner Mat Ishbia ready to spend a record amount of luxury tax in order to bring this franchise its first NBA championship.
Phoenix is on the Betway board at the +650 fourth choice to win next season’s NBA championship, trailing only the defending champion Denver Nuggets (+400), the Boston Celtics (+500), and the Milwaukee Bucks (+600).
It stands to reason that the temperature in Phoenix will drop below 110 degrees by the time the 2023-24 NBA season starts, and we shall learn whether the Beal trade ranks among the best NBA deals of all time. He is going to have to play point guard this season, something he has never done, so much still remains to be determined with so many new faces playing under new coach Frank Vogel.
Some words of advice: Judge them in April, not in August or September. It takes time to assimilate so many new players, and Vogel will not have Chris Paul running the point. He has signed with Golden State, where he will presumably be a sixth man.
Phoenix Suns Trade History
When the final chapter of Phoenix Suns history is written, the year 2023 might go down as either the most momentous or the most foolhardy, because that was the year that Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal came aboard and franchise cornerstone Chris Paul was shipped out. The deals came after Mat Ishbia, a Michigan mortgage executive billionaire, purchased the team from Robert Sarver for $4 billion.
Ranking the Top 10 trades in Phoenix Suns History
- Suns trade two second round draft picks to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pat Riley (Nov. 3, 1975)
This makes our Top 10 because it was the final trade involving Pat Riley the player, and the irony of him leaving the Lakers is not lost on us. We want y’all to use this in a trivia challenge with your buddies. Riley averaged 4.6 points that season for the Suns, and he retired as a player afterward at age 30.
- Suns trade Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk to Boston for Joe Johnson, Milt Palacio, Randy Brown, and a 2002 first-round pick (Casey Jacobsen) (Feb. 20, 2002)
Of similar size and skill set to the aging Penny Hardaway, Joe Johnson immediately became a cornerstone of the Suns franchise and went on to become a seven-time All-Star during his 21-year NBA career.
- Suns trade Neal Walk to the New Orleans Jazz for Curtis Perry, Dennis Awtrey, Nate Hawthorne, and a first-round pick (Sept. 16, 1974)
All three players received in return played valuable roles of varying degrees for the Suns over at least two seasons, including the team’s 1976 run to the NBA Finals.
- Suns trade Steve Nash to Dallas for Pat Garrity, Bubba Wells, Martin Muursepp and a first-round pick (June 24, 1998)
What makes this trade among the 10 best was the 1999 first-round pick. Selecting ninth overall, Phoenix took a wiry, hyper-athletic forward from UNLV named Shawn Marion. The small forward immediately ingrained himself in the starting lineup and never relinquished it for the entirety of his eight-and-a-half year career with the Suns. Nash eventually returned and became a Hall of Famer.
- Suns trade Vinny Del Negro to the Los Angeles Clippers and Jud Buechler to the Orlando Magic for Bo Outlaw and a 2002 first-round pick (Nov. 16, 2001)
Outlaw was a fan favorite for his hard-nosed defense and gigantic smile. But other than a big body off the bench, he was an average end-of-the-bench player. It was the first-round pick that proved to make the Suns the ultimate winner of this trade. That player, selected ninth overall a year later, was Amar’e Stoudemire.
- Suns trade Michael Finley, Sam Cassell, and A.C. Green to Dallas Mavericks for Jason Kidd, Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer (Dec. 26, 1996)
This deal happened in 1996 when Jason Kidd was still in his prime. Kidd led the Suns to the postseason in all five of his seasons with Phoenix, and they improved by 16 wins in his first season. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game and made three All-Star teams in a Suns uniform.
- Suns trade Charlie Scott and a second-round pick to Boston for Paul Westphal (May 23, 1975)
Scott averaged 24.8 points per game during his first three full seasons with the Suns, but Westphal was a different caliber of player and leader. Westphal brought the team to the NBA Finals in 1976 -- falling to his former team in epic fashion. Westphal averaged 20.6 points per game in his six seasons in Phoenix and went into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame as a Sun.
- Suns trade Stephon Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway, and Cezary Trybanski to New York for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Maciej Lampe, Milos Vujanic (draft rights), and two first-round picks (Jan. 5, 2004)
Marbury was a talented but troubled player whose teams rarely posted winning records, and Hardaway was a shell of himself on his last legs with two years and nearly $26 million left on his contract. This trade brought little on-court return for Phoenix, but it created the requisite cap room for the organization to offer Steve Nash a six-year, $63 million deal in the summer of 2004.
- Suns trade Larry Nance, Mike Sanders, and a first-round pick to Cleveland for Kevin Johnson, Mark West, Tyrone Corbin, a first-round pick and a second-round pick (Feb. 28, 1988)
At the trade deadline in 1988, Johnson was stuck behind star point guard Mark Price on Cleveland’s bench, and the Suns took advantage. Nance was a beloved and steady player who had averaged 17.3 points per game in seven seasons for Phoenix, but Johnson was much younger and more dynamic. He won the league’s Most Improved Player in 1989 (20.4 points, 12.2 assists per game) and would make three All-Star teams and four All-NBA Second Teams as well as helping lead the Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals.
- Suns trade Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and Andrew Lang to Philadelphia for Charles Barkley (June 17, 1992)
Barkley had become disgruntled in Philadelphia, and Phoenix pounced in the summer of 1992. It cost an All-Star guard in Hornacek, but Barkley’s production instantly paid dividends. Coming off a gold medal-winning run with the Dream Team in Barcelona, Barkley was energized in his first season in Phoenix. He was in the best shape of his career and produced a career-best campaign in 1992-93, averaging 25.6 points and 12.2 rebounds on his way to MVP honors. In the process, he led Phoenix to a 62-20 record and a 1993 NBA Finals appearance.
Parameters of Rankings
As always, we put a premium on winning, and for the purposes of this article, winning means reaching the NBA Finals, which the Suns have done three times prior to their bid for a fourth behind their new Big 3 of Beal, Durant and DeAndre Ayton. This franchise is still seeking its first NBA title after coming into the league as an expansion team in 1968. It ain’t easy to win in the NBA, but the Suns have had a few chances that were facilitated by many of the moves listed above.
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