The Phoenix Suns added a third minimum contract player Saturday evening, bringing in Australian big man Jock Landale from Atlanta — though he was only a Hawk for a few days, having been traded alongside Dejounte Murray from San Antonio.
The Phoenix Suns are trading for Australian center Jock Landale from the Atlanta Hawks, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Landale averaged 4.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 54 games for the Spurs last season.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 2, 2022
Shortly after Charania broke the news, Chris Kirschner, who covers the Hawks for The Athletic, broke Phoenix’s end of the deal:
The Hawks received money in the Jock Landale trade, per source.— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) July 2, 2022
The Athletic’s John Hollinger speculated that the exact money number would end up close to $110,000, which is the minimum amount able to be used in a trade.
Landale is the first Australian center for the Suns since Aron Baynes played one season in 2019-20, but Landale’s international footprint goes beyond that.
After going undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft out of Saint Mary’s College, the 6-foot-11, 255-pound big man signed with KK Partizan in Belgrade, Serbia, which plays in the ABA League, one of the better European leagues. He continued his European stint with a year at BC Zalgiris in Kaunas, Lithuania, a Euroleague power fresh off a domestic title in Lithuania.
Landale found his way back to Australia in Dec. 2020 when he would lead the National Basketball League’s (NBL) Melbourne United to a 3-0 sweep in the championship series against the defending champs, Perth Wildcats. During the series, he averaged 14.7 points and 11 rebounds per game, and he was named NBL Grand Final MVP.
He also represented Australia in two major events so far, the 2019 FIBA World Cup as well as the Tokyo Olympics, for which his squad won the bronze medal; in the ladder, Landale averaged 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.
He’s played on two Summer League squads — Atlanta Hawks (2018) and Milwaukee Bucks (2019) — though he likely won’t play for the Suns’ squad in Vegas; trades can’t be officially completed until the July moratorium period ends on July 8, and that’s the day of Phoenix’s first game. However, I suppose there’s a chance he could be a late addition.
Hey, Phoenix, announce your Summer League squad already maybe.
Landale (veteran’s minimum contract) rounds out a very affordable center rotation that also includes Dario Saric ($9.2 million) and Bismack Biyombo (just re-signed on a vet’s min).
From a statistical standpoint, Landale averaged 4.9 points (49.5 FG%) and 2.7 rebounds in 10.9 minutes over 54 games of action in San Antonio as a rookie.
Looking a bit deeper though, I’m enthused by the strong shooting indicators — 82.9 FT% and 32.6 3P% on 5.4 3PA per 36 minutes. That three-point outlook is further supported by a three-point rate (3PAr, essentially meaning 3PA divided by total FGA) of .436, meaning nearly half of his attempts are from deep. He could fit nicely in the Saric-Baynes role of pick-and-pop reserve bigs that have thrived under Monty Williams.
Landale started one game as a Spur, totaling 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists in his 26 minutes in a Jan. 15 win over the Clippers. However, his career-high for both points and minutes came on Mar. 12 in a loss against Indiana, when he tallied 26 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 35 minutes.
The move to add another center — especially one on a minimum contract — lends even more credence to a possible Kevin Durant addition, given that Deandre Ayton is all but gone at this point as part of that deal.