Phoenix Suns Trade Deadline Preview: Who Will Get Traded And How?

Feb 4, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a call made during the game against the Houston Rockets at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a call made during the game against the Houston Rockets at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 6
Phoenix Suns
Jan 2, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (3) walks to the sideline during the fourth quarter of the NBA game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings won 142-119. Mandatory Credit: Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Brandon Knight

Why The Suns Trade Him:

Brandon Knight is averaging a career-high 19.7 points per game along with 5.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds, but for those who have been paying close attention to the Suns over the last year, it’s obvious he’s not a good fit alongside Bledsoe. For one thing, he coughed up the ball left and right in the lead guard position, averaging 3.7 turnovers per game since Bledsoe went down.

For another, his poor shot selection (step-back long range twos, anyone?), injury problems (missing the last 11 games with a groin injury) and less than stellar distribution (Knight tossing an alley-oop to Tyson Chandler is the basketball equivalent of breaking a mirror while stepping on a crack and walking under a ladder) should have convinced the front office that Devin Booker makes him 100 percent expendable.

Potential Obstacles:

Most of the outside world just sees Knight’s career high scoring numbers and nights like his 30-15-10 triple-double in November, but those who have been paying attention see all the reasons above that would give teams pause to trade for him. Some might excuse those flaws as just being a poor fit in Phoenix, but the Suns’ 24-58 record since acquiring him could send teams screaming in the other direction.

Knight re-signed with Phoenix for five years and $70 million last summer, so he’d be a long-term acquisition. The NBA’s skyrocketing salary cap helps in this regard, but Knight’s play and nauseating defense have made that deal look like an overpay so far.

Teams That Might Be Interested:

Brooklyn Nets:

The Nets needed a franchise point guard before Jarrett Jack‘s season-ending injury, and owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to reassemble a winning team sooner rather than later. Thaddeus Young has had a great season, but Knight and Brook Lopez would be a decent foundation moving forward for an owner who has been swindled by the allure of big names before.

The Suns could use some insurance for the injured T.J. Warren and this would help McDonough move P.J. Tucker in a separate deal. It’d get Knight off the books, turning the backcourt over the Bledsoe and Booker in the process, while also acquiring a tremendous value player until Warren is ready to take over the starting job.

Indiana Pacers:

The Pacers “dangling” George Hill in trade talks with the Atlanta Hawks about Jeff Teague, so perhaps they’d make the mistake of thinking Knight is also an upgrade at the point guard spot. Knight is locked in for the long-term at the tender age of 23, while Hill’s contract expires after the 2016-17 season.

Solomon Hill would need to be included to help salaries balance out, but the Suns would be getting a solid two-way backup point guard and locker room leader. McDonough would probably also push for a future draft pick of some sort.

Milwaukee Bucks:

It’s safe to say the Bucks and Suns both wish they could take back the Brandon Knight trade from last year’s trade deadline? This deal would undo all of that damage, giving Knight back to Milwaukee — the only place he’s been relatively successful in the NBA — on a manageable salary, and possibly even getting rid of Michael Carter-Williams in the process.

A package of O.J. Mayo and Miles Plumlee wouldn’t do much for the Phoenix Suns, nor would a package of Mayo and MCW. But Mayo comes off the books this summer, Plumlee is a restricted free agent, and MCW is a restricted free agent the following summer. This deal would really be about acquiring the future first-rounder.

Orlando Magic:

Bringing back a fan favorite like Channing Frye would provide some much-needed positivity for a depressed fan base, especially if it meant McDonough had another deal lined up for Markieff Morris. Shabazz Napier could serve as the team’s 24-year-old point guard, though he’s underwhelmed early in his NBA career, and McD would push for a draft pick as well.

That might seem like a bit much, but why not? The Magic did just trade Tobias Harris for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova, so they clearly don’t know how to properly manage their assets. If the team is queasy about fully committing to a Elfrid PaytonVictor Oladipo backcourt, acquiring Knight for a player they’re trying to move anyway is one way to go. However, the Suns would have to move fast with the Clippers already on the prowl.

Philadelphia 76ers:

Jerry Colangelo wants this team to be competitive sooner than later, and it has to start somewhere. If the Suns are looking to move Knight, the Philadelphia 76ers could offer a nice package of veteran Carl Landry, 25-year-old Robert Covington (who may be a tad overrated as an asset) and a future first-rounder of some sort.

The Sixers would be getting a franchise point guard locked in through the 2019-20 season (no offense meant to Ish Smith‘s career year) and wouldn’t be giving up much to get him considering their treasure trove of future first-rounders and Covington’s 37.8 field goal percentage.

Los Angeles Lakers:

If the Lakers are seriously grappling with the notion of firing head coach Byron Scott, the growth of D’Angelo Russell may be stunted for the foreseeable future. But even in the present, the Lakers aren’t used to losing and may not be patient enough to let Russell and Jordan Clarkson grow into franchise players.

If that’s the case, they’d at least have to take McDonough’s calls with offers for Knight, right? They’d have to part with Roy Hibbert‘s expiring contract and a future first-rounder of some sort, but they’d be getting a player they could hype up as a current star in the wake of Kobe Bryant‘s imminent retirement.

New Orleans Pelicans:

The New Orleans Pelicans’ only untouchable player is Anthony Davis, so giving up on the Jrue Holiday/Eric Gordon/Tyreke Evans pu pu platter makes sense. Knight is only 23 years old and locked in for the long-term, which would give the Pellies a foundation to build around.

The Suns would take Holiday, Gordon or Evans as the player involved in the deal, but this is really about the future first round pick. Holiday has been the best of NOLA’s backcourt trio, so we’ll use him in the example, but either way, the Suns would be getting rid of that player’s contract either this summer or next summer.

Next: Tyson Chandler