The Phoenix Suns are taking on water. They once again tried to go forward this season with a roster half-made of young players like Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss and veterans like Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler. The result is a 5-12 start to the year. So naturally, other teams have started looking at the roster to find guys who might be on the trade block. And the first name up?
Reserve guard Brandon Knight. From ESPN:
Suns general manager Ryan McDonough recently went on the Burns & Gambo radio show in Phoenix and proclaimed (A) that he isn’t actively trying to trade Knight and (B) that he’d prefer to take at least two months to evaluate his team before seriously considering trades. None of that, however, has stopped interested rivals from believing that the struggling Knight — who started two games this week with TJ Warren out but mostly comes off the bench for the Suns — will be made available.
Knight is playing poorly, as he has since arriving in Phoenix. He’s averaging 12.6 points per game on 11.6 shots per game, shooting just 38 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range. His impact on the team is poor as well; Phoenix is a whopping 13.7 points per 100 possessions worse with Knight on the floor vs. off, and is actually a plus-2.5 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the bench. In layman’s terms? The Suns, a team that is perpetually outscored, outscores their opponent when Brandon Knight doesn’t play. That’s a huge red flag.
At the same time, the idea with Knight is that he’s struggled in Phoenix, but that doesn’t mean he’s not good at all. He was great in Milwaukee before being traded two years ago. The Suns made a colossal mistake in dealing Isaiah Thomas in a series of trade deadline moves along with the Lakers’ protected first round pick for Knight, but it wasn’t made for no reason. Knight has good steal instincts, is athletic, and is a career 36 percent 3-point shooter. There’s good talent there, and at this point his value is bottom barrel. On top of that, he signed what was then a big new deal with the Suns at five years, $70 million, but now he makes $3 million less per year than Evan Turner.
So if a team is looking for a guard that can start, come off the bench, or some combination, and can score and run offense, Knight’s a good buy-low candidate.
Some quick speculative candidates:
Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton’s offensive struggles are pronounced, and they could surely use a combo guard off the bench to pair with Payton or Evan Fournier.
New Orleans Pelicans: They have Jrue Holiday and Tim Frazier, but Knight would fit in well as a shooting guard who can also run offense, and they have a handful of pieces New Orleans might be willing to part with which the Suns could use. In particular, a deal involving Tyson Chandler as well would make tons of sense for both teams.
Brooklyn Nets: The Suns have some good young bigs, but Brook Lopez would instantly be arguably the team’s best player. A package which gets the Nets some youth might help the Suns get enough legit NBA talent to make a push with their veterans, and they’d still have Booker and one of the young bigs.
Philadelphia 76ers: The Suns don’t have great need for Nerlens Noel with Marquese Chriss around, but Jahlil Okafor actually might be a good fit with what their team does.