There is yet another rumor running around about one of the Phoenix Three being traded. Over the weekend we saw reports that the Suns might send Amare Stoudemire - yes, here we go with Stoudemire trade rumors again - to the Washington Wizards for Antawn Jamison, the expiring contract of Mike James, and the #5 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
As the draft approaches, there's an old debate about drafting for need vs. taking the best available player. There are strong cases to be made for both. But lately, I've started thinking it depends on the stage of your team's development.
My over-riding thought is that in all player acquisition, draft or otherwise, if you can see a path to a title, you take it. Period. Winning draft day, or winning a trade, is nothing compared to winning titles.
So, if you run a team that you think can win a title with a speedy point guard like Jeff Teague, then dammit, you take Jeff Teague and don't worry about what anybody else says.
I'm sure we have all played gin rummy. In this case, Jeff Teague is that seven you have been waiting for all game. When you get that piece, you lay down all your cards and say "rummy," even if it means discarding an ace.
On the other hand, when the cards have just been dealt, who wants a seven? At that stage of the game, you are willing to displace just about any card to accommodate whatever queen, king or ace might stray your way.
The point being: If you are a piece or two from a title, just get that piece.
But of course, most teams aren't, and I bet they're better off taking the player they believe -- with some clever long-term judgment -- to be the best available.
Having the fifth pick, I think the Wizards should try to do a trade to get him so he can learn from a great point guard like Gilbert Arenas, and play with some other great players. They are starting to have a lot of pressure to perform well and that would be a good fit for him.