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Is the Suns’ Brandon Knight untradeable after a terrible 2016-17 season?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

In a word... no. Brandon Knight is not untradable. But he isn't going to be easy to trade. Either the Phoenix Suns will have to attach some valuable asset to a potential trade to move Knight or they will have to take back what most would consider an equally bad contract in return if they want to move him during the offseason.

Or they hold on to him and try to use him correctly to rebuild some trade value. I think this is possible but... more on that later.

Brandon Knight is under contract to play for the Suns for another three years and will get paid a little more than $13.6 mil in 2017-18, $14.6 mil in 2018-19 and $15.6 mil in 2019-20. The grand total is $43,893,750 over the next three years.


Last season Knight averaged 11.0 ppg, 2.4 apg, 2.2 rpg and had a PER of 12.41. His advanced stats were even worse. As a sixth man "microwave" scorer off the bench he flopped... badly. He had the worst season of his career. But he at least had one good moment in the 2016-17 season that most Suns fans have probably forgotten... 32 points vs Denver on November 16, 2016.

The Suns lost that game but if Knight could have come anywhere close to putting up those same numbers for the rest of the season then this article would never have been written.

Brandon Knight is only 25 and not far removed from the season that he was considered a borderline All Star candidate in Milwaukee.

Is he a bad player or has he just been put in a bad position by the Suns?

That is the question that other GMs will be asking themselves whenever Brandon Knight's name comes up in trade talks with the Suns.

To me the answer seems to be mostly that he doesn’t fit well in Phoenix, especially not now. There are a lot of fans that call the trade for Knight a “panic” move by Ryan McDonough after former Sun Goran Dragic basically said “trade me now or lose me for nothing when the season ends” back during the All-Star break in the 2014-15 season. Perhaps it was because at the time the Suns still had hopes of making the playoffs that year. But Knight was having a very good season with the Bucks back then and he looked like a good replacement for Dragic even though the price was high.

It obviously didn’t turn out well and the Lakers pick that the Suns used to trade for him still haunts us but what would have happened if the Suns hadn’t drafted Devin Booker? How could anyone have predicted that the Suns could have drafted someone with the 13th pick that would have so quickly put Knight into a bench role?

But it happened and Knight was pushed back into a role that was alien to him... bench player.

All things considered, Knight is not a bad player but he's just not a really good NBA point guard. He's a combo guard and scoring is what he does best. There were times that he played very well alongside Eric Bledsoe as the shooting guard in the Suns' lineup in the 2015-16 season. His scoring average was 19.6 ppg in that season which was a career high for him. It wasn't a perfect pairing but Knight seemed to fit in fairly well until Bledsoe went down due to an injury and Knight was moved to the starting point guard position. Even at PG he had his moments.

Knight isn't a great distributor. He never has been and has averaged only 4.3 assists per game over his six year NBA career. But when he is hot he can be a game changer. He’s a scorer not a distributor and if put in the right situation he can still be a great asset. He and the Suns need to find a way to remind other teams of this. And that probably rests on the Suns using him correctly this season... unless they decide to basically give him away during the offseason for little or no return. That could happen but I don’t think that it is the best way to handle this situation.

Last season the Suns probably misused Knight because in the majority of the games that he played (54) he was the backup point guard over Tyler Ulis rather than the backup shooting guard. They played him mostly with Leandro Barbosa on the second unit which left that unit without a true distributor. It didn't work. Knight has a score first mentality which didn't fit in with the second unit if he wasn't "hot". Perhaps the problem was with Knight having to accept coming off the bench instead of starting, perhaps it was Earl Watson not having enough confidence in Ulis early in the season to put him in next to Knight, perhaps the Suns just made a big mistake in trading for Knight.

We may never know for sure.

But what we do know is that - no matter how badly he played last season - Brandon Knight can light up the scoreboard at times.

He didn't do it often enough last season to make him either a valuable player to retain or a valuable trade chip.

Although some Suns fans want him gone even if the Suns get next to nothing back in return, I think that Knight has the potential to rebuild some of his trade value this season if the Suns use him correctly. Play him as the backup shooting guard, not the backup point guard. He might even prove to be an asset that they want to keep if they put him in the correct role. But a lot of that depends on him too. Former Arizona Wildcat Jason Terry has had a great NBA career as a sixth man because he embraced that role.

If Knight wants to stay with the Suns then he has to accept that role. If he wants to leave the Suns then he also has to accept that role... at least for a while.

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