The NBA Draft is just over a month away and there isn’t much to explore for the Phoenix Suns. The team traded away its first round draft pick this season, which ended up being the 21st overall pick, to the Brooklyn Nets in the Kevin Durant trade. Outside of scouting deep sleepers for their second round 52nd pick, the Suns aren’t going to be a player in this year’s draft day festivities.
Or are they?
Phoenix Suns insider Flex from Jersey provided an alternative to that thinking:
Multiple sources have confirmed Portland has interest in Deandre Ayton & could be willing to discuss a deal centered around the 3rd overall pick and additional pieces. Scoot Henderson & Brandon Miller are both considered to be foundational players in this upcoming NBA Draft.— FLEX From Jersey (@FlexFromJersey) May 19, 2023
It’s rumor mill season, so snag some buttery Orville Redenbacher and play along.
The Charlotte Hornets missed out on the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Charlotte ended the season with a 27-55 record – fourth-worst in the NBA – and a 12.5% chance at the number one pick in the draft. They didn’t get it, however. The San Antonio Spurs ultimately won the NBA lottery. Once again, San Antonio is blessed with the ping-pong balls falling in their favor when a generational big man will be on the board.
The consolation prize this year in the eyes of many is Scoot Henderson. Scoot spent the last two seasons playing with the NBA G League Unite.
The 6’2” point guard possesses a high basketball IQ and a grinder mentality. He puts the work in. He wants to be great.
The challenge possessing the second overall picks for the Hornets is that they already have their franchise point guard. Four drafts ago, when they were sitting with the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, they drafted LaMelo Ball. Although he has had some injuries early on in his career, Ball has excited and wowed the Charlotte faithful. His passing is elite as is his vision, and his athleticism is above average. If he could play some defense and have some quality players around him, and play some defense, he’d be unstoppable. Ish.
Chances are that Charlotte is out on Scoot Henderson and could likely draft Alabama’s Brandon Miller. Miller, who is considered the second-overall prospect by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, is the best available wing player in the draft.
Which brings to the table the team with the third overall pick, the Portland Trail Blazers. They too have their franchise point guard. Hello, Dame Lillard, how are you?
If Charlotte chooses to pass on Scoot and draft Miller, Portland will most likely attempt to move their selection for the same reason the Hornets would.
Per Flex, Portland is a team that has been interested in Deandre Ayton for a couple of seasons now. Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t been an effective partner with Dame Lillard, and with three years left on his contract averaging $18.1M, the franchise could be ready to move on from him. Lillard will be 33 when the season begins and Portland is on borrowed time trying to put the right pieces around him that could finally equate to success.
Ayton could be somebody that meets their needs.
Despite a visibly low motor, Portland could believe that it was Monty Williams and the Suns lack of development that has hindered him. This could be an opportunity for the Suns to move on from Ayton, to obtain Scoot Henderson, and potentially some other pieces to add depth to the team.
Phoenix has stated that they are going to guarantee Chris Paul’s contract this off-season. This makes sense as they would do so for one of two reasons: to bring CP3 back and give him another shot or to have his contract fully guaranteed in an effort to move him. You can’t trade him if you’re going to waive him, right?
Both scenarios could benefit Phoenix in different ways. If Scoot Henderson does become a member of the Phoenix Suns, and Phoenix brings the Point God back, you have a season to download aspects of Paul to the incoming future of the backcourt. If they move on from CP3, does a rookie point guard next to Devin Booker and Kevin Durant make sense? Given his pedigree, it just might.
We’ll see how far this actually goes.
Portland surely is floating numerous rumors out into the ether in an effort to drum up some business. It’s an old tactic around draft season to see what the true value of their asset is. As time progresses and the draft nears, we will know more as to the validity of this information.
But it makes you think.