1. A few Ballin’ trades that probably won’t happen either
With Lonzo Ball being shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis blockbuster trade, it feels like Phoenix’s opportunity to land the young floor general may have sailed out the window.
Although his fit is tantalizing within Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo offense, with Zion Williamson to throw lobs to all day, there’s no guarantee the Pelicans decide to keep him. They’re already fielding offers for the fourth overall pick acquired from the Lakers, so the Suns could potentially sneak in there for Lonzo if executive David Griffin isn’t 100 percent sold on his future prospects.
If Ball isn’t off limits, there are several avenues that would be worth pursuing. The first would be the No. 6 pick and either Jackson or Warren for Lonzo straight up:
If Griffin prefers a more proven player and is okay with his longer contract, Warren is the more logical trade candidate. If he’d rather have the cheaper player and feels confident about cashing in on boom-or-bust potential, Jackson would be the guy.
Either way, the Pelicans pass on a Lonzo-Jrue Holiday backcourt to bring in a wing that addresses a position of need and add the No. 6 pick to No. 1 and No. 4. This gives them flexibility to make further trades, or to replenish the asset cupboard with plenty of young, cost-controlled rookies.
As for the Suns, they get a promising playmaker with exceptional court vision and lockdown perimeter defense. Though Ball’s shooting splits (.406/.329/.417 last year) are horrendous, he’s still only 21 and was plagued by injuries. If he can get healthy and figure that 3-point shot out, he’d be a perfect long-term fixture at the 1 alongside Booker.
If this deal doesn’t get the job done for New Orleans, expanding it might yield better results:
In this exchange, the Suns add a capable defender and more perimeter depth with E’Twaun Moore, who’s only on the books for one more season, while sending out Jackson and Warren, along with their both of their picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. Moore’s manageable $8.7 million salary could easily be moved at next year’s trade deadline to a playoff squad in need of depth.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, bolster their wing depth with two capable bench guys. More importantly, they pocket two potentially valuable picks for moving up again, should Griffin continue to be aggressive in pursuing other deals to stockpile more assets.
One crazier idea could involve looping in the Washington Wizards, who desperately need to blow it up. John Wall‘s trade value is kaput, making Bradley Beal their best — and most painful — trade candidate. One way to ease that pain would be a three-team trade like this one:
This would be a win for all three sides. The Suns get their franchise point guard in Ball, while bolstering some of their lost wing depth by adding a nice bench piece in Moore. All they wind up shipping off is Warren and the No. 6 pick.
The Wizards are properly compensated for losing their best player in Beal, snagging a microwave scorer in Warren as well as the No. 4 and No. 6 picks in the draft to jumpstart a new youth movement. They have to take on Solomon Hill‘s $12.8 million salary, but he’s only on the books for the upcoming season, providing the Wiz with plenty of cap relief next summer.
The Pelicans land the best player in the deal, creating a dynamic backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Bradley Beal to pair with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.
In other words, just because Lonzo Ball seems like a good fit with the Pelicans right now doesn’t mean a deal like this one should be off the table.