Another Suns-Warriors game, another Jae Crowder rumor.
Two months ago, just as the Suns and Warriors were tipping off in Phoenix, rumors burst that the Suns were close to trading Jae Crowder to the Bucks in a three-team trade that would have netted 34-year old Eric Gordon and 21-year old K.J. Martin. That deal fell through, reportedly, because the Rockets insisted on at least one first round pick coming back in the deal and the Suns didn’t want to do that.
Now, on the day the Suns are set to face the Warriors again, another trade rumor pops up. Not an actual ‘mighthappenanysecond’ trade, but a rumor nonetheless.
According to Shams Charania, the Phoenix Suns are still combing the market for a viable third team in a Jae Crowder trade and would love to get the Charlotte Hornets’ Jalen McDaniels back in the deal.
“Sources tell me that the Suns have emerged as a team with interest in (Jalen) McDaniels, among several others in recent weeks.”— The Rally (@TheRally) January 10, 2023
NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on teams showing interest in the Charlotte Hornets forward. pic.twitter.com/eyv3keH3Oi
McDaniels is a 25-year old fourth year player averaging about 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while making 37% of his threes. Sounds like Jae Crowder right? Sure, except he’s a lot younger and a lot taller (6’9”).
This fits the Suns model of trying to turn Jae Crowder into both a win-now player and a win-later player too. They’ll take back a veteran to help this season, but also want a young swing forward on a rookie-level contract to help in future years as well.
First, there was Jarred Vanderbilt. Then K.J. Martin. Now, Jalen McDaniels. They all have the same things in common — low salary so it’s not in a one-for-one deal, length, youth, defensive talent, offensive viability, and play for a team that’s out of contention for the playoffs and might want to contribute in a three-team deal if it nets them value (salary relief, a young player at a different position or draft picks).
Today that’s Jalen McDaniels, whose Charlotte Hornets team is really bad this year and might want to move off one or more of their big contracts, like Terry Rozier or Gordon Hayward. But they’re not going to jump at the chance for Jae Crowder, Dario Saric or anyone the Suns are willing to trade away unless multiple first round picks are included.
So, a third team is needed.
What we know is that there are contenders who would love to have Jae Crowder on their team, but they don’t have anything the Suns would want in return. The Suns don’t want Grayson Allen from the Bucks. Or Cedi Osman from the Cavaliers. Or Duncan Robinson from the Heat.
Might one of those teams be so desperate for a veteran sure-thing like Crowder that they’ll throw a low first round pick into the deal for Charlotte?
Or will the Suns finally get so desperate for talent that they’ll give up one or more first round picks to acquire Terry Rozier and Jalen McDaniels for Jae and Dario Saric?
The Rozier part is complicated. He’s averaging 20 points per game this year, with 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 35 minutes, but making only 31% of his 8 threes per game. That’s a drop off from last year’s 37% which matches his career averages. He just signed a 4 year, $96 million extension, so it’s not clear if the Hornets would even consider trading him away already.
They’d probably rather the Suns take Gordon Hayward, who can’t stay healthy while making $30 million a year this year and next. Imagine just adding Hayward to the daily injury report! He’s currently day to day with a hamstring issue, and has only played in 21 of the Hornets 41 games this year. Sound familiar?
Either way, Rozier or Hayward, the Suns new and old ownership groups would have to sign off on the future money and luxury tax impact.
Stay tuned, Suns fans.