Charles Barkley may not be the only player the Suns are prepared to trade this summer in an effort to rebuild from a disappointing 41-41 season.
NBA sources said Friday that the Suns are working aggressively to improve their position in the June 26 draft, and are negotiating a deal with the Vancouver Grizzlies, who have the third pick of the draft.The Suns could not trade players of value to the Grizzlies for the No. 3 pick at this time because Vancouver doesn't have enough room under the NBA's salary cap to take the players.
Instead, if a deal is struck, Vancouver would pick a player for the Suns at No. 3. The deal then would be completed after July 1 when Vancouver, with five unrestricted free agents and the club's option on two other players, can free up as much as $5.7 million under the cap.
According the sources, the Suns would offer forward Wayman Tisdale and third-year guard Wesley Person to the Grizzlies. Vancouver is in desperate need of firepower, and the Tisdale-Person combination would provide instant scoring.
Their salaries total about $4.44 million next season.
In return, the Suns would be able to land one of the players in the draft's first tier, which is expected to include Massachusetts forward Marcus Camby, Georgetown point guard Allen Iverson, Georgia Tech point guard Stephon Marbury and Connecticut shooting guard Ray Allen.
Suns General Manager Bryan Colangelo confirmed the Suns are seeking to move up in the draft, but he said no deals have been consummated.
"We're talking to a lot of teams about moving up," he said. "Do I have an interest in Number 3? Yes. Do I have interest in Number 4? Yes. One through four are all going to be exceptional picks. We've talked to every team about their picks, but that does not mean anything significant at all.
"With regard to specific teams and names, our policy is not to discuss those things. We don't discuss speculation. That's purely and simply what it is until a trade is completed."
The Suns may be looking for a point guard to replace Kevin Johnson, who has said he will retire after the next season, his 10th in the league.
Toronto picks second, and with Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire at point guard, the Raptors are expected to take Camby if he's available. Philadelphia, with the first pick, reportedly is favoring Iverson. That would leave Marbury and Allen available at No. 3.
One possible stumbling block is the potential for an NBA lockout of its players, which could put deals after the draft on hold. The National Basketball Players Association still has not signed a labor contract negotiated last summer.
To make a deal with Vancouver, the Suns likely would have to part with their 15th pick - meaning the Suns would pick for Vancouver on draft day.
And other deals, including one involving Barkley, also could be in the works.
If the Suns move Person, they will have to find a shooting guard. Person had an outstanding rookie season in 1994-95 but failed to live up to expectations last season when he averaged 12.7 points and shot 37.4 percent from three-point range.
Tisdale, a veteran of 11 NBA seasons, averaged 10 points in 63 games while hampered by a sore right shoulder, which required off-season surgery. If he is traded, the Suns either would need to keep Barkley or find another low-post scorer - perhaps in a deal for Barkley.
Stu Jackson, Vancouver's president and general manager, could not be reached for comment Friday.