Details about this deal are firming up now with ESPN reporting that the Phoenix Suns are very close to finalizing a trade with the Orlando Magic that would send Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark to the Magic in return for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first round draft pick and cash.
The deal would radically remake the Suns roster in the middle of the season for the third time in four seasons. For a team that revolves around Steve Nash, who values stability and consistency in his relationships on and off the court, it is hard to have a positive reaction to the move.
The portion that makes sense for the Suns is swapping Hedo Turkoglu for Marcin Gortat, but it says a lot about the thought process and decision-making that they would be desperate enough to move Hedo that they are willing to take on Vince Carter in place of Jason Richardson. It's both an admission of mistake on the initial Hedo decision and a potentially devastating blow to the rest of this season.
Jason Richardson is a perfect fit at the two guard next to Steve Nash -- at least on the offensive end of the floor -- but it took a full season to get there. Replacing him with Vince Carter now will be a huge setback to the flow of the offense and provide no upgrade defensively.
Mickael Pietrus is a nice player. He fills the role of defensively-minded two guard who can shoot the three ball and his contract isn't bad. Pietrus is under contract for this season at $5.3 million with a player option for next year at the same amount. The problem here is that Pietrus adds to the log-jam on the Suns wings. Replacing two wing players with two wing players doesn't solve anything unless Gentry elects to not play Carter, which would be a hard pill to swallow since he's making $17.5 million.
The prize in the deal, of course, is Marcin Gortat. Gortat gives the Suns much-needed size, toughness and depth at the center position. The front line trio of Gortat, Lopez and Frye is at least respectable, if not incredible, but it only works when matched with a smooth-flowing back court that Nash and Richardson could provide.
Nash and Carter once again gives the Suns a player (Carter) who (like Hedo) is most effective with the ball in his hands and we've already seen that Nash isn't willing to relinquish that control. If Carter didn't fit with Jameer Nelson, he's not going to fit with Steve Nash.
The real question now, assuming this deal happens as reported, is what, if anything, this means for Nash and possibility of moving him. With the team hovering around .500 and seeing yet another teammate get moved, you can easily envision a frustrated Steve asking to be dealt. Certainly a late first round pick and some cash isn't going to placate Nash.
There are some who've called for the Phoenix Suns to admit their window has closed and to begin the rebuilding process immediately. This could very well be the first step. What to watch for next is the reaction from Nash and any signs that the Suns might want to flip Carter's expiring contract for some other better fitting pieces.