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Suns want Thaddeus Young, but who’s minutes would he take?

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The Phoenix Suns are interested in acquiring Thaddeus Young from the Spurs

Chicago Bulls v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The rumor has been out there for weeks, but today it ramped up a bit higher with Shams Charania confirming the Phoenix Suns interest in acquiring Thaddeus Young from the San Antonio Spurs.

Shams comments:

The Suns are among the contenders who have pursued Spurs forward Thaddeus Young, sources said. San Antonio acquired Young in a sign-and-trade — along with a first-round pick and two second-round picks — and now are expected to receive strong interest in the veteran forward from competitive teams. Young averaged 12.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists while playing in 68 games (23 starts) and shooting 55.9 percent from the field a season ago.

Of course, Shams will get the bulk of the credit for breaking the rumor, but a local Suns fan with connections tweeted this rumor out weeks ago.

Flex is an under-the-radar good source of what the Suns are thinking and trying to do. Of course, he’s not always right — no one is! — but he’s more right than not. And this time, he appears to deserve just as much credit for this breaking rumor as Shams. If you’re giving Shams more credit than Flex, you’re telling on yourself.

Anyway, back to the rumor.

With Thad Young in the lineup, the Suns become an objectively better team. Young does not launch threes like Jae Crowder, but he plays excellent defense and moves the ball well on offense in a way that none of the Suns existing players can provide at the forward position. His fit in a point-five offense — where you either drive, pass or shoot within half-second of touching the ball — is better than good. It’s great.

The potential trade package: Young makes $14.4 million in 2021-22. To acquire him, the Suns would need to send back 75% - 125% of that number in returning salaries.

The Suns cannot trade any of Paul, Payne, McGee, Kaminsky, Nader or Payton until at least December 15 because they signed contracts this month.

Of the remainder, who would you trade to get Young? Booker, Ayton, Crowder, Bridges and Johnson were huge reasons the Suns made the Finals last year. Shamet has been in a playoff rotation all three years of his career, and was just acquired in trade so is unlikely to get shipped off so soon.

You can get there on salary matching with Dario Saric and Jalen Smith, but neither of those guys is even in the top-9 rotation for the Suns. The prize here is Smith — would the Spurs see Smith as a worthy acquisition piece to part with Young? Smith fits the Spurs rebuilding plan, while Young does not. But is ‘Stix’ the best they can get for Young?

Young’s potential fit in the rotation: Thad would deserve 24+ minutes per game, but where would those minutes come from — especially if the deal was Dario and Stix, who currently account for 0 minutes per game?

The Suns already have 9 players who more than deserve the minutes they played last season (not even including Elfrid Payton) and are already up to 234 of the 240 minutes available in an NBA game.

That leaves 6 minutes per game from someone else outside that top 9. And Elfrid Payton wants those I’m sure.

Thad Young played 24 minutes per game last year, posting 12.1 points (almost no threes), 6.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals. That’s high production in only 24 minutes: would put him 6th in minutes, 5th in scoring, 2nd in rebounds and tied for 2nd in assists per game on last year’s Suns.

See the chart below. Who would you cut out of that rotation in order to play Young 24+ minutes?

That’s the problem here. Sure, you can give him those last 6 minutes plus McGee’s 15, but then you suffer in rebounding and rim protection if you’re not playing McGee. You can give him some of Shamet’s minutes, but then you suffer in three-point shooting (Young does not take threes). You can give him some of Jae’s minutes, but doesn’t Jae deserve better treatment than that after a great year and signing a three-year contract?

Young is good. Very good. But is he worth losing one of, or squeezing several of, the other big-time rotation players?

Poll

Do you want Young playing over Jae, Mikal or Cam Johnson?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Yes, he’s worth it
    (480 votes)
  • 67%
    NO, find the minutes another way
    (975 votes)
1455 votes total Vote Now