As next Saturday, December 15 — the date when NBA free agents acquired this summer can be traded — approaches, the Suns are reportedly engaged in talks with the Lakers about Trevor Ariza that hinge on the teams’ ability to track down a third team willing to take in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
From the Suns perspective, that likely also means finding a third team whose roster would allow them to send a veteran point guard to Phoenix in exchange for Caldwell-Pope. As ESPN reported, “The Suns want to land a playmaking guard and a draft asset as the price of unloading Ariza.”
Caldwell-Pope’s role has lessened this year due to the emergence of Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram’s transition into the starting shooting guard in L.A., but he is not the right type of player to come to Phoenix directly in an Ariza swap.
The Suns, according to the ESPN report, “(remain) in pursuit of a guard who’d allow star shooting guard Devin Booker more consistently off the ball.”
There are very few teams who would seem to fit this mold, but two come to mind who had previously been linked with the Suns in their quest for a starting point guard: Indiana and Minnesota.
The Pacers aren’t a perfect fit for Caldwell-Pope, but he is another shooter who could play alongside Victor Oladipo off the bench to give the Pacers more versatility. Either Darren Collison or Cory Joseph could be in play to head to Phoenix in such a deal.
On the other hand, Caldwell-Pope is a more smooth fit for the Timberwolves, who could move Derrick Rose to point guard off the bench if they traded third-year guard Tyus Jones to the Suns as the third team in an Ariza trade.
Because Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year deal this summer, he is eligible to veto any trade. However, he is averaging just 21 minutes per game this year so a bigger role would appeal to him with another team.
Either way, the Suns clearly plan on using Ariza to nab the point guard they’ve needed since they traded Eric Bledsoe over a year ago.