The Search for a Suns Sixth Man

Happy Friday, Valley Boys and Girls!

The Suns finally broke their losing streak last night, taking care of Kelly Oubre and the Warriors despite being without their superstar Booker, their best big off the bench, and their primary backup point guard. It was an impressive, and necessary, win. The team has been struggling ever since they had to sit out for over a week due to the NBA allowing them to play the Wizards after it was clear Wizards players were carrying Covid, but we won’t get into that right now.

What I do want to get into, is how badly the Suns need a sixth man. Now, a sixth man doesn’t necessarily have to be a guard. They could be a shooting guard, or a small forward, or even a power forward if they are the kind that is capable of creating their own shot consistently. However, there aren’t too many players who fit the criteria I’m looking for here.


My primary criteria in putting together the deals I’ll present in this article are as follows:

A) Is it within the realm of possibility that their current team would trade them for a package the Suns would be willing to give up (or at all)

B) Is their salary low enough that the Suns could do the deal without having to send out one of Crowder (who it would be a bad look for them to trade this soon, and has been very helpful defensively for a team that is trying to hang its hat on defense, despite his up and down offense), or Saric, who is currently without a doubt the Suns best big off the bench.

C) Are they a player who Monty Williams and James Jones would actually want to bring into their locker room? This would likely rule out guys like Malik Beasley (recent legal issues) and Derrick Rose (you know what I’m referring to, and if you don’t, google Derrick Rose + accusations)


The Suns absolutely need another guy who can put the ball in the basket without needing to be set up by somebody else. James Jones has done a great job improving this team, but if he has one flaw, it’s that he seems to favor adding players who are… well… a lot like him. Role playing three point shooters. Which was definitely a need going into this season. However, the Suns needed at least one more guy who can go get a bucket, and they simply don’t have it.

The Suns have a number of guards off the bench, all who offer something different.

Jevon defends his butt off, and sometimes he catches fire from three, but he is not a consistent threat, and he certainly isn’t a “scorer”.

Langston is a sniper from range, and is good at hitting jumpers off screens, but that’s essentially what he is limited to.

Moore, who has barely gotten on the court until recently (with the Suns missing Payne and Booker), can spot up from three and he has a nifty floater, but again, fairly limited. Not going to help carry a scoring load when necessary. I’d like him to get some more burn, to be sure, but it’s not looking like he is what the Suns need.

Cam Payne. Ok, I know we all love Payne, and I may catch some flack for this, but I’m not as high on him as others are. He is better than the rest of them at moving the ball around, and he seems to be able to get to the rim with ease, but his shot is inconsistent and he has had trouble staying healthy. He IS shooting 37% from three this year still, but that is only on 2.2 attempts per game, and they are usually very wide open.

The best teams always have more than two guys who can create offense when they need to. Mikal might be becoming that, but the Suns need another one right now. This player doesn’t have to be a star. Just someone who can provide a bit (or a lot) more firepower off the bench than the Suns currently have available to them.

That being said, here are my ideas for the Suns next sixth man:

#1

This first deal is for Alec Burks. Someone I was hoping for going into this past free agency. He’s a hired gun for the Knicks. He certainly isn’t in their long term plans, and they aren’t going to be making any noise this season, so they might as well get a pick for him and send him somewhere that could actually use him for a playoff run (haha, man, it feels good to say that about another team instead of our own).

They also get to take a look at Abdel Nader, who the Suns have heavily featured lately (perhaps due to necessity, or perhaps for something just like this…). This particular deal wouldn’t be possible until February 26th (due to restrictions on trading recently signed players).


#2

This next deal is for Lou Williams. He has had a bit of a down year, and the Clippers just traded for Luke Kennard. If you look at those two, as well, as Reggie Jackson, you’ll notice that each are playing similar minutes, and putting a similar number of points on the board.

The Clippers sent a whole lot of draft assets to bring in Paul George, so they may be open to trading someone who is getting on in age, and underperforming a little, for a pick, giving them the option of expanding the role of Kennard, and also bringing in Nader, who, as I mentioned in the last proposal has been featured heavily in Phoenix lately. They also get back Moore who could help replace a bit of what Lou does for them if need be (when injuries or Covid hit). This deal is also unable to be completed until 2/26.


#3

Devonte’ Graham is currently starting for the Hornets, but he has been struggling, and there is smoke that he will be being replaced in the starting lineup. He is a good young guard, and could be what the Suns need to help solidify a great young core. The Hornets don’t really have many decent young big prospects, so Jalen Smith would perhaps be a welcome addition as the recent 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft.


#4

Here’s one that I’ve seen months ago. I forget who it was, come take credit if you want. The idea was originally basically Powell for Smith. It required some additional money to make it work, and I have a feeling those two 2nd round picks would be absolutely necessary (they may even ask for more…). Powell isn’t exactly the prototype we are looking for. He is assisted on about 55% of his 2p attempts and 84% of his 3p attempts, but he’s averaging 14ppg and shooting 40% from three, so I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers (or, you know, off my list of potential sixth man targets).

He is essentially a super saiyan version of the prototypical James Jones guy. So again, not exactly what we are looking for, but nothing to sneeze at either. This is actually one of the most unlikely deals on here, as the Raptors have Siakam (who plays Smith’s position), and there are also rumblings that Powell will be being inserted into the starting lineup soon. Again, this deal can’t take place until 2/20 due to Moore being included.


#5

Welcome to my favorite deal on this list. I would absolutely love this. Kendrick is exactly the guy the Suns need off their bench. He isn’t hitting from three this year like he did last year, and yes, he sort of vanished in the playoffs as a rookie, but he was very good last season, and has mostly kept it up this year. The biggest thing to look at with Nunn is that he is only assisted on about 37% of his 2p attempts, meaning that he can definitely create his own shot.

Not only that, but I have read recently about how Nunn tends to play worse when Jimmy Butler is on the floor with him. Not sure of the dynamic there, as I don’t watch enough Heat games to know, but I’d say that little tidbit is enough reason for them to maybe be looking for a change. Also, the Heat expect to be big players in this coming 2021 free agency, so they may not be looking to give Kendrick the money he will probably be looking for. This feels like a prime target for the Suns.

The recent 10th overall pick, two future 2nds, and Cam Payne might be enough to make the Heat pull the trigger on this. Moore would also be a bit more than just a throw in, since the Heat would need to replace Nunn’s minutes with somebody else, and they would probably gladly include the veteran into their rotation. This also gets the Suns Maurice Harkless, who I remember some Suns fans wanting before his play plummeted. Perhaps he would be useful down the stretch.

I really like a young core moving forward of Booker/Bridges/Ayton/Cam Johnson/Nunn. Not too shabby at all. And the Suns won’t have any cap space this coming offseason anyway, so they can go over the cap to keep Nunn, and still have the full MLE to offer another decent player, to really make a deep run next season after this initial trial run of the new and improved Valley Boyz. Again, this deal couldn’t take place until 2/26 due to recently signed player restrictions.


#6

This deal is wacky. However, I don’t think it’s a completely outside the realm of possibility. Hill has been a target that we have all wanted for awhile, and it has seemed a foregone conclusion that the Thunder will either deal him, or waive him and allow him to join a playoff team. This particular trade is sort of a win win for both teams I believe, and the Suns really help free themselves up for future moves.

Essentially, trading the 2020 10th overall pick Jalen Smith, and two 2nd rounders, as well as Cam Payne (if he has value now at this point), for George Hill, and the Suns own 1st rounder back. Due to the protections on that Suns 1st, they are very limited in what sort of trades they can make, and what picks can be included, in the near future. Its made trading a 1st before 2027 very complicated. This trade does give some young talent up, but it gets them a very solid backup guard in Hill, who, though he isn’t exactly a scorer, is a do it all point guard who can defend and pass and hit the three at a high level, as well as gives them a lot more trade flexibility moving forward. As with many of these, this deal again could not take place until 2/26 due to restrictions.

That’s all, folks. What ideas do you have? Feel free to let us know in the comments, or under the twitter post.


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Categories: NBA, NBA Trade, Phoenix Suns

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