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Suns trade rumors: The latest on Miles Bridges, Royce O'Neale and more

Gerald Bourguet Avatar
January 26, 2024
Here's the latest Phoenix Suns trade rumors on Miles Bridges, Royce O'Neale, Nick Richards, P.J. Tucker and Bismack Biyombo

The 2024 NBA Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away, so it’s no surprise that Phoenix Suns trade rumors are heating up.

We’ve already covered the basics fans need to know in our Suns trade deadline primer, as well as multiple trade scenarios for Phoenix to consider, but as always, this time of year conjures up buzz. Here’s the latest we’re hearing about the Suns in regard to Miles Bridges, Royce O’Neale, Nick Richards and the buyout market.

Miles Bridges at the forefront of Suns trade rumors

[NOTE: One section of a trade rumors article cannot adequately cover such a complicated and ugly subject as domestic violence. That Miles Bridges conversation is vital, and it’s far more important than any on-court analysis we could provide here, so rest assured, that column is coming tomorrow. But until then, we’re strictly covering trade rumors before diving into those feelings fully, in order to give that discussion the proper time and attention it deserves.]

As first reported on the PHNX Suns Podcast and then again in PHNX’s massive trade scenarios article earlier this week, the Suns’ interest in Miles Bridges is very real. It’s since been confirmed by multiple other outlets, and where there’s this much smoke, there’s typically fire.

The question is whether Phoenix is ready to be burned by the inevitable PR nightmare that comes with trading for a player who’s been charged with felony domestic violence and child abuse.

A source close to the situation described the Suns as feeling very confident they’d be able to get a deal for Bridges across the finish line. Financially speaking, Bridges’ $7.9 million contract would be easy to match by sending Charlotte a combination of Nassir Little’s $6.3 million salary and a veteran minimum player like Chimezie Metu ($2.3 million), Yuta Watanabe ($2.3 million) or Bol Bol ($2.2 million).

Bridges is averaging 20.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 35.5 percent from 3. Little and a vet minimum player would likely feel like an underwhelming on-court return from Charlotte’s perspective, but Bridges’ value has never been lower, and his ability to veto a trade grants him the ability to virtually choose his destination.

Considering the Suns have Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, as well as a need for wings who can play the 3 and the 4, it’s not surprising Phoenix would be one of Bridges’ desired landing spots. There is mutual interest there, but the Suns are concurrently pursuing other deals.

The reason for this is twofold: Phoenix is undoubtedly cognizant of the significant blowback they’d receive if they traded for Bridges, and they’re currently riding high on a seven-game win streak. The Suns are figuring things out, and they can avoid alienating half the fanbase by pursuing other deals elsewhere first, rather than trading for such a contentious presence who would significantly alter the discourse and mood around the organization.

In other words, the urgency to make a move for Bridges isn’t as significant while the team is stringing together wins and there are other options on the table to consider.

Bridges has an upcoming court date on Feb. 20 for violating the terms of his domestic violence protection order, as well as misdemeanor child abuse and injury to personal property. That criminal summons alleges that Bridges threatened his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his children, by throwing pool balls at her car while his children were inside the car.

Royce O’Neale another relevant name

In terms of alternative options Phoenix could pursue before falling back on a Miles Bridges trade, Royce O’Neale is a significant one. A source told PHNX Sports that, while the Brooklyn Nets’ asking price for Dorian Finney-Smith is too high, O’Neale could be a more realistic option.

O’Neale is a name we mentioned in our 30 trade scenarios before, and so far this season, he’s averaging 7.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game. The 30-year-old wing is only shooting 37.6 percent from the field, but the Suns wouldn’t need him to score; they’d need his 3-and-D skill-set as a guy who can take on primary defensive assignments and knock down open 3s.

O’Neale has made 35.4 percent of his triples this year, but he’s a career 38 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and playing with Phoenix’s Big 3 would undoubtedly increase the number of open looks he’d receive on a night-to-night basis. His best days as a lockdown defensive wing are probably behind him, but he brings some size, physicality and experience on that end.

In terms of what it’d take to trade for him, O’Neale’s $9.5 million salary would require Little ($6.2 million) and two veteran minimum players. The only vet minimum contracts that would work in combination with Little straight-up are Eric Gordon ($3.2 million), Josh Okogie ($2.8 million) or Damion Lee ($2.5 million), but Gordon isn’t going anywhere in this type of deal, and both Okogie and Lee have veto rights on any trade.

That leaves Little, maybe a couple of second-round picks (the Suns have five to offer), and two of the following vet minimum guys: Watanabe ($2.3 million), Bol ($2.2 million), Metu ($2.3 million) Keita Bates-Diop ($2.3 million), Drew Eubanks ($2.3 million) or Jordan Goodwin ($1.9 million). Eubanks feels unlikely unless the Suns make a separate move for the type of backup center who would make him expendable.

The Suns also still have interest in Hornets backup big Nick Richards, whose $5 million contract would be easy to trade for, either with veteran minimum contracts, one of Phoenix’s trade exceptions, second-round picks, or some combination of those assets.

Lumping Richards into a Miles Bridges deal would complicate the math, and a source said it’s increasingly feeling like an “either/or” situation rather than Phoenix being able to trade for them both in the same deal. That makes sense financially, since Bridges and Richards combine to make $12.9 million — an amount that’d be difficult to reach with Little’s $6.3 million and multiple vet minimum guys.

Suns could also look to buyout market

Depending on how they approach the deadline — and even independent from that — the Suns could be aggressive on the buyout market. If they are unable to make deals for the types of two-way wings or third-string bigs they still need, there are two potential buyout options that would have mutual interest.

The first is P.J. Tucker, who is currently out of the LA Clippers’ rotation and has not played since Nov. 27. At 38 years old, his best days are behind him, but Tucker is still a physical, defensive-minded presence the Suns could test out at the 4-spot whenever they need more size and strength off the bench. He’s also a well-known corner 3-point sniper, and until this season, he had shot 39 percent or better from long range in each of his last three seasons.

A source said Tucker would definitely be interested in joining the Suns after a potential buyout, and his $11 million contract fits just under the threshold that Phoenix can sign for buyout players (as a team in the second tax apron, the Suns can sign any player on the buyout market as long as their contract was $12.4 million or less prior to being bought out).

Given Phoenix’s current needs and Tucker’s longstanding friendship with Devin Booker, it’s impossible to completely rule out a reunion here.

The Suns could look at another reunion on the buyout market with Bismack Biyombo too. The Memphis Grizzlies recently bought Bizzy out of his $5 million salary to bump up Vince Williams Jr. from his two-way contract, but Biyombo played well before that, averaging 5.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 23.9 minutes per game.

There isn’t any urgency on signing a deal just yet, but a source said Biyombo and the Suns have been in contact, which would make sense given their recent history and the team’s need for a more athletic, shot-blocking option at the center position.

Phoenix currently has three centers in Jusuf Nurkic, Drew Eubanks and Bol Bol, but Eubanks has been inconsistent, and Bol’s recent foot sprain has disrupted his most promising four-game stretch of the season. Right now, the Suns’ most reliable option behind Nurk might be going small with Kevin Durant at the 5.

So depending on what the roster looks like after the deadline, there’s a real possibility the Suns reach back out to Biyombo and bring him aboard as another option in that backup big spot. Given how he first joined Phoenix, this team is plenty familiar with his ability to stay in great shape despite being unsigned.

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