As we’re now less than 10 days until the Feb. 7 trade deadline, expect to hear plenty of rumors between now and then. Especially with the Anthony Davis trade request bombshell, this year’s deadline could be filled with juicy subplots.
Well, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, we have another interesting backcourt name to add to the list. If Davis does indeed get dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in the next week with Lonzo Ball being one of the young pieces moved, or even once this offseason hits, Ball’s camp prefers him to be moved to a third team without an established point guard.
Sources: Should Lakers/Pelicans trade talks pick up, point guard Lonzo Ball's camp prefers Ball to be moved to a third team that doesn't have an established point guard.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 29, 2019
Only the Suns and Orlando Magic at the moment really qualify for the “doesn’t have an established point guard” narrative. That’s interesting, because Ball would actually fit smoothly with the Suns’ young core.
All season long, Phoenix has struggled with the simple things like feeding their big men in the post consistently. Ball would be Ayton’s best friend right away from that standpoint, because the 21-year-old playmaker would be getting the Suns’ No. 1 pick his easiest looks of his career. And when thinking of guards who are elite at post entry passes, Ball is definitely right near the top as he’s consistently flashed this skillset throughout his career.
One area the Suns struggle mightily in is post entry passes to their bigs. We're more than halfway through the season and it's still an issue. Lonzo Ball would arrive and fix that immediately helping Deandre Ayton get great looks inside. pic.twitter.com/ljWAPg8bdq— Evan Sidery (@esidery) January 29, 2019
First off, how would Ball end up in Phoenix in the first place? When trying to think of realistic three-way trades between the Lakers, Suns and Pelicans, here’s the best I came up with:
Lakers - Anthony Davis, Troy Daniels, Ian Clark, Darius Miller
Pelicans - Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, T.J. Warren, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Elie Okobo, Lakers picks = 2019, 2023, 2025; 2020 Bucks pick via Suns
Suns - Lonzo Ball, Solomon Hill, Tim Frazier
It’s not perfect, but I believe Ball would be the sweetener to taking on a contract like Solomon Hill’s (under contract through 2019-20 season). Hill would replace Warren in the rotation while backing up the Suns’ other wings, while Tim Frazier would be the stopgap third-string point guard behind Ball and De’Anthony Melton.
Having a core of Devin Booker, Ayton, Ball, Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson, Kelly Oubre Jr., Melton, and Richaun Holmes is tantalizing. Ball, who was ranked No. 1 on the Suns’ big board for the 2017 draft, is the perfect fit from a defense and playmaking standpoint as a buffer between Booker and Ayton. Not only that, but four of the five members of next year’s starting lineup would be 23 years and under. That’s one way to build a solid foundation and let it grow together.
If the Suns were to acquire Ball between now and July, while using that proposed trade as an example, they would still have $17 million in cap space for next season when factoring in cap holds for Oubre Jr. and Holmes. Phoenix could then use their 2019 pick to either land Duke phenom Zion Williamson or use it with an expiring contract of Ryan Anderson to trade for a top-tier option at power forward.
One interesting point connecting the Suns back to this whole Lakers situation could be the early Tyson Chandler buyout. Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones allowed Chandler to wait on his roster until the best situation for him came up, which was in Los Angeles with the Lakers two weeks into the regular season.
Could that decision by Jones and Co. put them in the driver’s seat to help facilitate an incoming Davis trade? It’s quite possible, because pulling that move off when they did was puzzling but it was definitely felt like a “I’ll help you now, if you help me later” type of transaction. That trust factor matters, especially when trying to craft up the perfect trade for all sides and having some additional assets to throw in (ex: Bucks pick from the Eric Bledsoe fiasco).
Even though Ball is a polarizing topic amongst Suns fans, he would be easily the best facilitator and one of the best on-ball defenders on this team right away. Being on the same age curve as the rest of the Suns’ core also makes it very interesting.
Depending on the price in having to get involved in the Davis derby, plucking Lonzo Ball from the Lakers would be a slam dunk type of move.
The Suns need consistent defenders and someone who will feed Booker and Ayton within the flow of head coach Igor Kokoskov’s offense. Ball provides both of those in spades.