Ryan McDonough Rumors
Ryan McDonough: If we can find either draft picks or players between 19 and 27 that fit within the core of our group that we think will be able to add to what we’re doing stylistically, we’ll look at that. We’re still below the salary cap. We have about $13 million to $14 million in cap space. We’re still 3 to 4 million below the salary floor, even, so we have the option and potential to take on more money in a contract, especially an expiring contract, if it’s incentivized with a draft pick or young player. We’ll look at those opportunities as well.
Ryan McDonough: P.J. Tucker does have a lot of interest around the league, as you would imagine, especially from contending teams or teams that want to solidify themselves as playoff teams. But we really value P.J. What we’re going to do over the next week, I don’t know, but he’s certainly a guy who’s played well for us and we have some interest in playing for us beyond this year as well.
Dragan Bender had minor ankle surgery Feb. 8. Do you still expect him back this season? Ryan McDonough: We don’t want to put a hard date on it, but I do think at some point – whether that’s mid-to-late March or April – that he’ll come back and play. The surgery went well. His rehab up to this point has gone well. He’s off crutches. I believe he’s out of a walking boot already so it’s been a very smooth process
Ryan McDonough: In terms of trading for an elite player, you obviously need young players on rookie-scale contracts that are team favorable, draft picks and cap space. And we have kind of an abundance of all three. We’re to the point now – I don’t know if we’re the first team that these other teams with star players that they’re thinking about moving call but we’re among the first. We’re on the short list of teams that have players, picks and cap space to put together a package that would be attractive for that. Those are things we’ll certainly look at over the next week.
One of the most successful trades Ainge has engineered came just a couple years ago when he landed Isaiah Thomas from Phoenix. During the Toucher & Rich show, Ainge explained how that deal came about. “When we did the Isaiah Thomas trade, we said what we would do and dealing with my good friend (and former assistant GM for the Celtics) Ryan McDonough, he said ‘no, I need more in return’ which I understood. But we just weren’t willing to do more at that time. And a couple hours before the trade deadline, they came to our price and we got a deal.”
The Nuggets are quietly exploring what they might get for Emmanuel Mudiay and multiple picks, sources say, but they’re in no rush to move Mudiay, and the Suns may not want him when they could simply draft a point guard. There aren’t that many teams with a need at the position, and not much reason to exchange Bledsoe for another established guy — say, Reggie Jackson or Ricky Rubio — unless the other team includes a pretty damned good pick to sweeten the pot.
The Suns are resisting after watching Bledsoe’s growth over the last six weeks. “This is the best I’ve ever seen him play,” said Ryan McDonough, the team’s GM. “The learning curve for point guards is steep. We think Eric will play better in his late 20s and early 30s, right as Devin is entering his prime.” Watson is more blunt: “I can almost guarantee Devin and Eric will be on the same team next year,” he said.