Add another out-of-nowhere deal to what is quickly becoming one of the busiest NBA trade deadlines we’ve seen in years — Tyler Johnson is headed to Phoenix along with sharpshooter Wayne Ellington.
Much of the public comment we’ve seen from the front office since former general manager Ryan McDonough was ousted has shown us the vision is changing for the Suns, Phoenix’s private nature around the deadline remains the same. No one saw this coming. We’ve heard over a dozen names at this point but never once did Johnson’s name arise in discussions surrounding the Suns’ hole at point guard.
Miami is nearing a deal to send guard Tyler Johnson to Phoenix, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2019
Johnson is a player who makes sense in coach Igor Kokoskov’s system as a playmaker to provide balance alongside but his contract is onerous. He was one of the players whom the Brooklyn Nets swung and missed on a few years back when they were one of the only rebuilding teams in the league with cap space. Brooklyn signed him to a “poison pill” contract that was heavily backloaded, meaning he will make $19.245 million this year and next.
Thinking about his fit next to Devin Booker, it’s clear from an offensive standpoint why the Suns would covet Johnson. He is a career 36.7 percent 3-point shooter who (until this year) rarely turns the ball over and at 6-4 has developed into a solid secondary playmaker. Realistically, he is not the “traditional” point guard many have coveted alongside Booker but he is interesting in the same way Austin Rivers was for a few minutes that wild December night, if you believe two secondary playmakers can coexist in today’s NBA and add up to the backbone of a good offense.
So to sum up Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington to the Suns for Ryan Anderson. There are no picks involved in this trade.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) February 6, 2019
It also makes sense for the Suns to use Ryan Anderson’s reduced 2019-20 salary to get an asset, in this case a player who fits on their team and can be flipped next season as a large expiring contract.
Finally, we can expect there might be cash changing hands here as Johnson also has a 15 percent trade kicker that will unlock in this move. The Heat could send the Suns the approximately $1 million that will be added with the kicker to help smooth this trade over as it also helps them ease their tax bill this season.
Ellington won’t matter for the Suns despite being an even better shooter than the Suns’ own Troy Daniels. Think of Ellington as the cost of doing business for the Heat. Phoenix can now flip Ellington before the Thursday trade deadline and keep whatever they get back for him to sweeten this deal centered around the upgrade from Anderson to Johnson.