A new potential suitor for Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder has emerged.
It has been an off-season of turmoil, from the suspension-turned-team-sale of Robert Sarver to the Deandre Ayton tension around his resigning. Add to that Jae Crowder’s desire to be a part of a team that he helped to an NBA Finals appearance and a franchise record 64 wins.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that it is now the Atlanta Hawks who could be interested in the services of Jae Crowder.
Eastern Conference contender emerges as interested suitor for Suns' Jae Crowder: pic.twitter.com/oxw12tvnUt— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 10, 2022
Time to hit the trade machine!
Shams noted in his report that the Hawks would like to add Jae Crowder with their current big three of Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, and John Collins. So for those of you who think that, somehow, someway, Jae Crowder to Atlanta, will net John Collins, it’s time to revisit The Mint dispensary and reload your “prescription”.
I find myself to be somewhat standoffish as I prepare to explore possible trade ideas to the Hawks. The last time I suggested that the Suns could trade for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander using assets garnered in the trade with the Knicks for Jae Crowder, I got roasted on Twitter. And by the entire NBA fan base. But you know what? Twitter isn’t real. My love for this team is.
Let’s throw three possible outcomes of Jae Crowder to ATL and how it would look:
The Dream Scenario: Bogdan Bogdanović
The first trade idea brings the other Bogdanović to Phoenix. Many speculated that while the Utah Jazz were conducting their fire sale this past month, Bojan Bogdanović could be a potential trade target for the Phoenix Suns. He ultimately ended up with the Detroit Pistons.
It is Bogdon who would be a better fit for the Suns. Originally drafted in the 2014 NBA Draft by Phoenix, Bogdanović has spent the past two seasons playing with the Atlanta Hawks after the Sacramento Kings let him go for nothing when they could have extended him in 2021.
In his 107 appearances in Atlanta 53 have come off of the bench. HIn this scenario, in an effort to make the money work, Landry Shamet would join Jae in the transaction to the Hawks. Bogdan would be plug-and-play in the vacated Shamet minutes, and most likely be more efficient in those minutes.
Bogdanović shot 39.8% from the perimeter as a Hawk, and is a career 38.4% shooter from deep. He has averaged 14.2 points in his career. HIs offensive impact would allow for the ‘Cam Johnson to the starting five’ transition to be seamless, as he’d provide the offense that Johnson left behind from the second team unit.
The 30-year-old is making $18M million this year and has a play option for next year. If the Hawks are looking to avoid those monies, especially as newly acquired Dejounte Murray is eligible for an extension this upcoming offseason, this could be the means to an end for them.
This trade would allow the Hawks to get what they want, Jae, Crowder, and they would also receive someone in Shamet who could fill their Bogdanović role. The only challenge here is the fact that the Hawks chose to keep Bogdanović this past season as they traded away Kevin Huerter to the Kings. Their role was duplicitous, although the Red Mamba generally started. With Murray on the team, someone had to go. It was Huerter.
This is the best case scenario, which means two things. One, it’ll never happen. It’s too good to be true. Second, Hawks Twitter will get ahold of this and shred it to pieces.
The Replacement Scenario: De’Andre Hunter
Raise your hand, if you’re okay with having another DeAndre on the team.
The Atlanta Hawks enter this season, the total payroll of $148M. Per Spotrac, they are $1.7M under the luxury tax as they begin the 2022-23 season. But with Trae Young making $37M, John Collins making $23.5M, and the pending Dejounte Murray extension looming next off-season, the team is going to have to make some financial decisions.
De’Andre Hunter, the 6’8” forward from Virginia, was drafted 4th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Hawks had the opportunity to provide a rookie extension this past off-season. The total? Five years, $188M.
All we heard about was how Ayton didn’t receive his rookie extension contract an offseason ago, but neither did Hunter this past off-season. They’d have so much to talk about!
Knowing that Jae Crowder is on an expiring contract, and that this young team could utilize veteran leadership, trading away Hunter could also be an ideal solution for Atlanta. They could gain the vet and free themselves of the Hunter decision. His qualifying offer next season is $12.9M, and with everything they have heading into next season, that would definitely put them into the luxury tax.
The question becomes whether or not they’re willing to pay that luxury tax, especially considering that, prior to making an Eastern Conference Finals appearance two seasons ago, the team was 43-39 last year and finished ninth in the Eastern Conference. They lost in five games to the Miami Heat in the First Round.
De’Andre Hunter carries with him an injury history. He had a torn lateral meniscus that ended his 2020-21 campaign. He had a wrist injury last season that cost him 25 games. That is why as an investment, he has been a challenge for the Hawks to navigate, for they don’t know if they want to invest in somebody who can’t provide them with their greatest ability. Availability.
In his three seasons with Atlanta, Hunter has started in 96% of his appearances, averaging 13.2 points per game, shooting 35.9% from beyond the arc, and grabbing 4.1 rebounds. His athletic ability is off the charts, but again, he hasn’t had the ability to stay on the court the past two years. Making this trade for the Suns brings in another athletic wing, and if it doesn’t work out this season, he has a restricted free agent next season.
You can never have too many wings, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a real power forward? Hunter played power forward in 35% of his performances last season. His addition to the lineup would allow for some flexibility for Monty Williams, and we would be free of the Jae Crowder situation. It’s a win for everybody. Except Hawks Twitter, I assume.
The ‘Take a Contract They Don’t Want’ Scenario: Onyeka Okongwu and Maurice Harkless
The last suggestion brings Onyeka Okongwu and newly acquired Maurice Harkless, who the Hawks gained in the Huerter trade with the Kings, to Phoenix.
The Hawks have until Halloween this year to determine whether or not they want to exercise their club option on Okongwu, which is $8.1M next season. Onyeka, who was the 6th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft for the Hawks out of the University of Southern California, is a 6’8” 235 pound beast. He plays much larger than he is and loves crashing the glass on the defensive end.
While Phoenix has plenty of center options coming off the bench – Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale, and Daio Saric – he would fit the power forward role perfectly. Last season he averaged 8.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 20.7 minutes played. The Suns would still be looking for offensive threats from the bench unit, but Okongwu would add physicality and rebounding to the bench unit.
The veteran 6’7” forward Moe Harkless has become a career plug-and-play guy. Last season with the Kings he averaged 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 18.4 minutes played. He would be a depth guy in this acquisition and would assist in making the money work. Perhaps he’d replace the mysterious Torrey Craig minutes and actually provide productivity from the backup three position.
The Most Likely Scenario: Justin Holiday and Maurice Harkless
You can’t always get what you want. All of the scenarios above include players I would love to see on the Suns. And while I wouldn’t mind Justin Holiday, he doesn’t have the impact that I’d like to see Phoenix pursue.
But he is a Holiday.
With 9 years of NBA experience to his name, Holiday is a 6’6” wing that is a clear upgrade over the likes of Torrey Craig and Ish Wainright. He’s a Holiday, which means defense is in his DNA. Offense? Average. He is a career 39.8/36.5/82.0 guy who averages 8.7 points in 24.6 minutes played.
Perhaps an addition like Holiday, coupled with the rebounded prowess I expect from Jock Landale and Bismack Biyombo, means that the second team unit focuses all of their energy on the defensive end. If the opposing team can’t score, you can hold the lead until the likes of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton re-enter the game.
John Gambadoro believes that a deal that includes Holiday is the best the Suns will get from Atlanta.
Regarding the Hawks interest in Jae Crowder - I would think the best you could do from them is Justin Holiday. Atlanta is highly unlikely to move Hunter or Bogdanovic makes no sense for them to do that.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) October 10, 2022
Given that Jae has become a distressed asset, someone who doesn’t want to be here, you can’t ask for much. Nor will you get much. For once I wish Phoenix held the cards in a trade, maximizing their asset like Jerry used to do in the late-80s and early 90s.
Everything depends on what exactly the Hawks are trying to accomplish. Do they want a veteran junk yard dog type? If so, what are the willing to give up and what value do they see on making this addition? Are they looking long-term, knowing that this team will get very expensive very quick if they are looking to extend their young players? If so, are the willing to pay them? Are they trying to acquire Jae for pennies on the dollar, knowing that his value tanked the moment he began posting IG messages?
Whatever their intentions are, their are many trades that exist between the two franchises that would benefit both parties.
Shred my suggestions in your comments below. Tell me how they are too “2K-ish”. Someday, I’ll get one of these right.
At this point I’ll take anything. I am ready for the Jae Crowder Saga to come to an end. This teams needs to move on from Jae so they can begin to integrate whoever the newest edition of the team is. Hopefully something happens with Atlanta. Anything. Just get us to the other side of this thing.