The surprising Phoenix Suns are looking to upgrade their roster, and they have a valuable trade chip to do so. Now that 80 percent of the remainder of center Emeka Okafor's $14.4 million expiring contract will be paid by an insurance policy, teams looking to save some money should be calling Phoenix. Via Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Whoever deals for Okafor before the trade deadline will receive an insurance payout of $5.7 million - roughly $141,000 per game.
According to Wojnarowski, the Suns are looking to add an experienced player who can contribute immediately, but who doesn't have a long-term contract that would compromise their long-term plan. They are 26-18, which is good enough for seventh in the West, but there are several teams chasing them in the standings. Phoenix is 7-7 since Eric Bledsoe's knee injury, which required surgery.
The Suns have a fairly balanced roster, but could use an additional wing scorer or paint presence. No specific trade targets have even been rumored yet, but looking at players who will be free agents this summer or next is a good place to start, and there are some veterans who fit that profile and could be difference-makers.
Perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers would like to dump Pau Gasol and save some money, setting themselves up for a better position in the upcoming draft at the same time. Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers are finally ready to move Anderson Varejao. If Phoenix was willing to surrender one or two of its many stockpiled picks, it might be able to acquire Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes from the Philadelphia 76ers. The Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer could dramatically improve the Suns' rebounding, but also hurt their spacing.
Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough already has a promising young team that has exceeded expectations. Now he also has a lot of options as the Suns get ready for the push toward the playoffs.