Thursday’s NBA draft could offer some insight into how the Phoenix Suns will attack this offseason, from the curtailed Deandre Ayton onwards, and ESPN’s Jonathan Givoni on Tuesday pulled out of a mock draft with a wacky nugget at multiple levels. . .
Zhivoni reports that there are rumors that the Suns may try to trade for a top 10 draft pick, and that the move could help the salary cap situation if the team retains center Deandre Ayton. Under the 8 overall pick, the New Orleans Pelicans in a trial draft, Jivony included this:
The Phoenix Suns are said to be one of the teams potentially considering trade scenarios here, possibly including a player like Cameron Johnson to free up salary cap flexibility to keep DeAndre Ayton. New Orleans has four loyal starters and a plethora of young talent in every position, giving it tremendous depth and role players capable of plugging just about any hole.
This tidbit is one of the few reports this offseason that includes evidence that Phoenix will try to keep Ayton, who is looking for the maximum contract he didn’t get from the Suns through last offseason’s extension.
Johnson is poised to renew his rookie contract this summer, and his transfer as a key member of the deal will certainly help the Suns cut costs going forward, as he could be asking for a salary of around $20 million a year beyond 2022-22. 23 season. Even exchanging that salary for a top 10 rookie contract would save more than $10 million a year, even if you don’t factor in the luxury taxes that Phoenix will likely start next year.
Trading Johnson, one of the league’s best shooters, for a top-10 rookie will help the Suns regain rotational-caliber talent.
Givony has G League Ignite combo guard Dyson Daniels, who is eighth overall, and the 19-year-old, as our Kellan Olson wrote, could develop behind Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
The combination of Daniels’ size and his passing ability is enticing. I keep mentioning how big he is because for a security guard he is almost 6ft 8in. It matters more now than ever given how extraordinarily athletic the average NBA player is, and if Daniels never becomes the lead mover, he could still be the playmaker.
Other players that could be available at number 8 in this tricky lottery include Arizona forward Bennedict Maturin, Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis, Duke A.J. Griffin, Kansas forward Ochai Agbaji and Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan.
These are just a few of the players that can be accessed as number 8.
Not only is it important to speculate who might be of interest to the Suns, but also that the New Orleans deal would make a lot of sense for the Phoenix. As Givony points out — and as Suns fans from the first round of the playoffs probably know — the Pelicans don’t really need a rookie to take the next step as a team.
Making a deal with a team led by former Suns assistant Willie Green, who knows the Suns roster well, would be an easy starting point to strike a deal that would benefit both teams.