You’d have to go all the way back to 2019 to find the last time the Phoenix Suns General Manager James Jones traded up in the NBA draft. After taking Cameron Johnson with the 11th overall pick, he made a trade to acquire the 24th overall pick and take Ty Jerome.
Since then, Jones has swapped his first round picks for established NBA talent. If he doesn’t trade back into this year’s first round, the Suns will meekly go yet another year using the draft as nothing more than a vehicle to get a veteran team.
As of today, the Suns only have the 52nd overall pick in the 2023 Draft, after trading their first rounder three months ago in the Kevin Durant deal.
But now that he’s out of trade capital, and doesn’t have a single player under rookie-contract salary control, maybe Jones is ready to swing all the way in the other direction?
Jones does have some movable contracts, as Dave explained in his Salary Cap primer a few days ago.
While there’s one rumor floating around that could land the 3rd pick in the Suns’ hands, I’m choosing to take a more measured approach to this one. Here are three ideas I consider to be realistic for the June 22 draft day.
Suns get: (one year of) Gordon Hayward and #27
Hornets get: Deandre Ayton
Of course you’d want more for Deandre Ayton than the corpse of Gordon Hayward and the 27th overall pick. But there’s at least a strong chance Ayton’s trade value is at an all-time low this offseason.
Suns could use a more reliable scoring option behind Devin Booker and Kevin Durant and Hayward provides that, averaging 17.6 points (39.6% 3P) over three years before an especially down year for Charlotte last season, where he still averaged 14.7 points per game. He’s also capable of running the offense in spurts with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.9-1.8 during the same three-year period.
At #26, one of the players I’d be most intrigued by is Brandin Podziemski (31st on ESPN’s board) from Santa Clara, same school that produced Oklahoma City (and Gilbert High) forward Jalen Williams. Podziemski, though not as big as Williams at 6’3.75 with a 6’5.5 wingspan, also plays with an unmatched tenacity and do-it-all nature that he displayed during the combine scrimmages earlier in the week:
Strong showing at the NBA draft combine for Santa Clara's Brandin Podziemski. Did a nice job of blending his scoring and passing making great reads out of pick and roll and hitting tough shots off the bounce. pic.twitter.com/ArImTJTyAP— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 17, 2023
Suns get: #31
Pistons get: (one guaranteed year of) Landry Shamet
Recently on an appearance on Detroit Bad Boys Live with our sister site (and where I do some draft work), I happened to convince the hosts to say yes to this. They like the idea of adding shooting to their core of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey with an upcoming addition of potentially a Thompson twin.
That conversation as well as some Podziemski discussion are right here in this clip:
Suns get: #33
Spurs get: Cameron Payne
San Antonio is reportedly not pushing in all their chips in year one of the Victor Wembanyama era, but will likely still want to surround him with capable of NBA players. While Tre Jones is a solid starter if they stick with him, Payne would provide solid relief, ensuring there’s always a point guard to set Wembanyama up when he’s not doing it himself.
Podziemski remains a target here as does Houston’s Marcus Sasser (35th on ESPN’s board), who also got some love in the DBB Live video, but Sidy Cissoko (39th), a strong, big wing from the G League Ignite by way of France also deserves a look. He defended top perimeter options on most nights in the G, which is no joke for a teenager.
Sidy Cissoko showed off his size, strength and improving perimeter shooting at the Tandem Pro Day in Chicago. The 19-year old French guard measured 6'7, 224 pounds with a 6'10 wingspan at the NBA draft combine. pic.twitter.com/DjGNcJv7N4— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 18, 2023
That’s just three trades to start with, and we’ll have more over the coming weeks. Of course, you’d want more for Deandre Ayton but that’s pretty good return for Cam Payne and Landry Shamet, no?