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Suns reportedly looking to trade Miles Plumlee

Photo Credit: NBA.com

Photo Credit: NBA.com

The Phoenix Suns have put third-year center Miles Plumlee on the trading block, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

Plumlee carved out a niche with the Suns last year, starting 79 games at center for the upstart squad that just missed the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. Plumlee averaged 8.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in 24.6 minutes after barely playing in his rookie season with the Indiana Pacers. The big man came over to the Suns along with Gerald Green as part of the Luis Scola trade.

But this season, things haven’t gone as planned for Plumlee. After playing 23.5 minutes per game in November, he has seen his playing time steadily drop. It went down to 19.8 minutes per game in December and now sits at just 13.5 minutes per game in January.

Plumlee simply isn’t producing as much as he was last season. The 26-year-old is averaging 4.7 points and 5.4 rebounds, and he’s about three points and two rebounds down per 36 minutes from last season.

In conjunction with Plumlee not playing well, 2013 lottery pick Alex Len is coming into his own. Len has taken over the starting job, and the 21-year-old has grabbed double-digit rebounds in four consecutive games. He’s averaging 6.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 20.4 minutes while shooting a solid 55.3 percent from the field.

Knocking Plumlee even further down the depth chart was the acquisition of backup center Brandan Wright. Wright was traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Boston Celtics in the Rajon Rondo deal, and then he was traded to Phoenix not long after. The big man has had a ridiculous shooting season, as his field goal percentage currently sits at 73.2 percent. In three games with the Suns, he has shot 10-of-12 in 48 total minutes.

Phoenix is reportedly trying to snag a first-round pick in a Plumlee trade, but that seems a bit far-fetched for a 26-year-old with limited upside. While Plumlee can be a solid contributor elsewhere, it’s hard to imagine a team being so desperate that they would give up a first-rounder for him. Then again, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave up two first-rounders to acquire Timofey Mozgov, so maybe there is a team desperate enough for frontcourt help that they’d cough up a first, although there would likely have to be some protections on the pick.

Whether they trade Plumlee or not in advance of the Feb. 19 deadline, the Suns are looking pretty good at 24-18. Phoenix currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, although the Oklahoma City Thunder are lurking three games back. The Thunder demolished their last two opponents and look like they could be on the verge of a run, so the Suns can’t afford to slip much.

After a date with the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, the schedule toughens up big time for Phoenix. The next eight games after the Lakers contest are against playoff teams, with six of those games coming against West playoff teams.

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