Phoenix Suns trade rumors: Clearing cap space and grabbing at Josh Smith

USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns would like to make a big-time acquisition before the trade deadline, but if they fail, they'll work to clear cap space for an active free agency signing period this summer.

Sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns are in rebuild mode following Steve Nash's departure from the franchise last offseason. Still at the very beginnings of the climb back to relevancy, the Suns have been trying to make a big move before the trade deadline, by all accounts. Josh Smith is the hot name as Thursday approaches.

That said, it's hard to see what Phoenix will be able to do considering how few trade chips are on the roster.

The outlook for the Suns

Phoenix has plenty of draft picks stockpiled, including two lottery picks for the 2013 NBA Draft if the Los Angeles Lakers don't make the playoffs. The Suns signed Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley in the offseason, and they have rookie point guard Kendall Marshall and second-year pro Markieff Morris tabbed as integral parts of their future.

After whiffing on signing restricted free agent Eric Gordon this offseason -- New Orleans matched an offer -- and then losing out on the Rudy Gay sweepstakes, Phoenix is still searching for a franchise player. This offseason, the Suns will have enough coming off the books to go after a max-contract type of player, and maybe two if they shed more salaries before Thursday.

Veterans Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat are the most valuable trade assets on the roster, and it's understood that very few players, if any, are untouchable outside of Luis Scola and Channing Frye. Scola was picked up after Houston amnestied his contract and isn't available for trade until July 1, while Frye's heart condition that has kept him sidelined this year probably makes him untradeable.

Trade targets include Josh Smith

The Phoenix Suns are going hard after Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, according to multiple reports. It was expected that Gortat, as the team's most valuable trade chip, would be a part of such a deal, but ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that's unlikely to be the case.

With the future relying on smart draft selections, Phoenix will also be hesitant to send picks to the Hawks.

And with other teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets also showing interest in the Hawks' forward, Phoenix appears unable to pull off a Smith deal, no matter how interested it might be.

Dudley is another piece Phoenix could potentially ship off. He was rumored to be available in exchange for Gay, but after Toronto made the deal with Memphis instead, Dudley's name resurfaced in a report that said Phoenix wanted to acquire New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, according to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Suns targeted Shumpert in a potential Nash trade to New York this summer, and they also nearly took him in the 2011 draft.

In addition, both Dudley and Gortat were reportedly trade pieces if the Suns were to go after the Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward, according to The Arizona Republic.

The final analysis

The Suns would like to make a splash, and they're definitely active in making calls this trade season. But it will be difficult for them to pull off anything substantial with so few valuable pieces to trade and with the competition to acquire their wanted targets so great.

In all likelihood, Phoenix won't be able to do much, no matter how badly they like a player such as Smith. The front office might be relegated to making a few small cost-cutting moves such as moving Sebastian Telfair for a second-round pick -- Marshall has ousted the veteran from the rotation in order to gain experience -- and the big moves will be made during the summer.

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