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Rumor: Suns interested in trading Cam Payne for T.J. McConnell

McConnell would be a great addition to the Suns. But how can Phoenix make the trade work?

Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns aren’t done yet. We keep hearing this, but as the dust settles from their free agency onslaught of new additions, we’ve yet to see a move or merit since they acquired multiple second round picks from the Memphis Grizzles for Isaiah Todd and pick swaps.

Even with Bol Bol on the market, the Suns haven’t made any moves. But that doesn’t mean that they aren't trying.

Jake Fischer, Senior NBA reporter for Yahoo! Sports, reported on Wednesday that the Suns are pursuing someone from the Indiana Pacers. We’re not talking about a possible Deandre Ayton for Miles Turner and assets trade, as many have proposed and suggested since Phoenix lost in Game 6 to the Denver Nuggets. No, this is a backup point guard for backup point guard scenario.

In Fischer’s report, he states:

The Pacers have been mentioned in another possible trade discussion this week. Phoenix has continued to explore trade scenarios regarding reserve guard Cam Payne, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and Indiana point guard T.J. McConnell has been one player on the Suns’ radar. There was some talk around Summer League about a developing multi-team trade discussion. Maybe there’s some business to be done with the Knicks. Rival front offices continue to say New York remains engaged on trade avenues for veteran shooter Evan Fournier, and the Knicks are amenable to doing so as part of multi-team frameworks, sources said.

Interesting. Let’s explore some of the bread crumbs and see if they lead us to

Frank Vogel has been vocal with his support of Cameron Payne and what he could mean to the team. In Bradley Beal’s introductory press conference, Vogel continually mentioned his desire to play with pace and how Cam Payne would be in the mix.

Granted, that was two weeks ago and plenty has changed since then. The Suns now have Eric Gordon, brought back Damion Lee, and may be in the market for a more traditional point guard to assist the second team unit.

Enter T.J. McConnell.

T.J. has 8 years of NBA experience under his belt and the 31-year old has become a journeyman since leaving the University of Arizona. Last season in Indiana he averaged 8.7 points in his 75 games played — 6 starts — while dishing out 5.3 assists in 20.3 minutes. That’s 9.4 assists per-36 minutes. Ooooo. Ahhhhh. A backup distributor? Sounds like a huge win for Phoenix.

The challenge?

McConnell is owed $8.7 million this season, which is 34% more than the $6.5 million that Cameron Payne is set to make. Seeing as Phoenix is over the second tax apron, they can only take back 110% of the salary they are sending out.

If the Suns want to make this deal happen, they need to add another asset, which we know they don’t have many of, or get a third team involved. This why Jake Fischer references a third team perhaps partaking in the deal. The mechanics of a deal are challenging, however, because of the second tax apron predicament.

The other side of this is, in all honesty (and not to be rude), but why would the Pacers want Cameron Payne? Wouldn’t that be a downgrade on that position for them? They only appeal is that his contract in up after this season, whereas McConnell’s is partially guaranteed for next season for $9.3 million. If they are looking to save some money in the long term — something Phoenix clearly isn’t — they could try to make the deal work.

I’d love to see your suggestions below on what this trade could look like, because I can’t find a way to make one work in the Trade Machine that makes sense for all parties involved.

Phoenix would benefit greatly from T.J. McConnell’s presence. But I don’t see that path to the Valley. If anyone can pull a rabbit of a hat, however, it is James Jones.

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