Late yesterday, as the Phoenix Suns were preparing to face defending champion Golden State Warriors, holdout forward Jae Crowder posted a cryptic story in Instagram.
That was at about 5pm Arizona time, or three hours before the tipoff. A final countdown?
Long-time NBA insider Marc Stein quickly added to it on twitter, that he’s heard credible word that the Suns might be settling on a trade framework for Crowder.
There have been some credible rumbles this week that the Suns have made progress on finding a trade resolution to the Jae Crowder saga. Crowder's cryptic IG story appears to address to feed into that notion ...— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 17, 2022
More NBA from me: https://t.co/A6ycVmnrjq https://t.co/Mghglx0fXP
And THEN, a few hours later, long time NBA insider Jake Fischer, of Bleacher Report, shared this additional nugget that it was possibly a three-team trade in the works.
Word is the Suns appeared close to finalizing a three-team trade involving Jae Crowder prior tip-off tonight against Golden State. https://t.co/VTRjU3HBRu— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) November 17, 2022
All this came out late last night as the Suns were beating the Warriors. I heard from a source that Crowder’s destination was meant to be the Milwaukee Bucks, who have been looking for a P.J. Tucker type for their next playoff run. But I also heard that the Suns had no interest in Grayson Allen, the Bucks’ only tradable asset in Crowder’s salary range. So, a third team made sense.
Since then... crickets.
Today, I hear the deal is dead. At least for now. But what were the parameters? What would that third team be?
Our own Brandon Duenas, Zona Hoops, got us some intel.
A source tells me the deal that fell apart last night including Crowder was with Milwaukee and Houston.— Zona (@ZonaHoops_) November 17, 2022
Framework was Crowder to Bucks, Grayson to Houston, Gordon to Suns.
So, the Houston Rockets? For Eric Gordon, who the Suns fans have been wanting for two years now.
Sounds good. Sign me up.
But the deal seems dead. At least for now.
Why would the deal fall apart?
First of all, salaries don’t match up. More players had to be involved. Gordon makes twice what Crowder makes, so the Suns would have had to include another salary to make it work for the Houston part. Enter Dario Saric, who is also an expiring deal, and fits nicely into the math.
Why not just Houston and Phoenix? Probably because tanking Houston would rather one of Eric Gordon than two of Crowder and Saric to sit on their bench for the same expiring money. They’ve been insisting on a first round draft pick for years. Why suddenly agree to a deal that nets them no value beyond this tanking season?
Enter Milwaukee, who’d love to have Crowder. But then Houston would need to be good with taking Grayson Allen instead of Crowder back (and Dario?). This way, the Bucks get their enforcer. The Suns get their shot creator. And the Rockets get someone who might be part of their rebuild or could have trade value down the road.
The math works.
- Suns swap Dario and Jae’s contracts for Gordon’s
- Bucks swap Grayson Allen’s for Jae Crowder’s
- Houston swaps Gordon’s for Dario and Allen’s contract
Check, check, check. Except... now it comes down to value.
Did the Rockets want first round draft pick compensation in any trade of Gordon, like they’ve been wanting for the last two years? The Suns definitely would not want to send out Jae, Dario AND a first round pick (which could scuttle any bigger trades down the road for a guy like KD or Shai or someone like that).
Did the Suns insist on a young guy coming back along with Gordon. Remember they could have had Bojan Bogdanovic for Jae/Dario a couple months ago but they insisted on Jared Vanderbilt too. Maybe this time the Suns they insisted on young swingman Kevin Martin Jr. in the deal (who would fit, salary-wise) and the Rockets declined?
Maybe this is just a pause. Maybe in a week or a month we’ll see this trade go down with these principles involved.
The holdup is in the details.