The Phoenix Suns have already told other NBA front offices that their No. 6 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft is on the table for a potential trade if “the right veteran guard is available,” according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
What constitutes “right” and “veteran,” of course, is hard to say.
On Saturday, 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro shot down a rumor that Phoenix might be willing to deal the No. 6 overall selection for Los Angeles Lakers third-year point guard Lonzo Ball.
In his first two NBA seasons, the 21-year-old Ball has appeared in 99 out of 164 possible regular season games. This past March, he was shut down with a Grade 3 left ankle sprain that was suffered two months prior.
Ball averaged 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 30.3 minutes per game in 2018-19 and continued to struggle with his shot. He connected on 41% of his attempts, including 33% from three-point range and an abysmal 42% from the foul line.
Ball’s name has remained linked to Phoenix because of the Suns’ lack of a clear starting point guard and their reported interest in him before last year’s trade deadline.
So who the Suns might target using their No. 6 pick in a trade remains to be seen. General manager James Jones has suggested that well-paid point guards entering their mid-30s like Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry, who could be deemed expendable by their current teams, might not be the best fit for the young Suns.
“For the most part, our team is all under 22,” Jones told Burns & Gambo in January. “So if you try to add someone that’s 33, 34 years old, it usually just doesn’t work. There’s too big of a gap.
“Especially when you factor in the speed and the pace of the game has increased, the elite players, there’s very few of those guys between the age of 32 to 35 that maintain a high level and take a jump.”
Younger players in their prime like Jrue Holiday would certainly require a hefty package including the No. 6 pick, and that’s if the New Orleans Pelicans decide to go into a full rebuild once the Anthony Davis drama is settled. Free agency could be the more likely option for Phoenix, but a sign-and-trade for a player of restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell’s caliber is likewise dependent on things outside the Suns’ control.
Are they wanting to settle their point guard situation by trading for a lesser point guard on a shorter contract like the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague or the Pistons’ Reggie Jackson? Those seems like odd fits, too.
Filling their point guard vacancy in the draft is possible, but according to Givony’s mock draft, it might not be the answer, either.
Talented scorer Darius Garland is off the board at No. 4 overall to the Lakers, and Givony has the Suns passing on the next-best point guard prospect, Coby White, to select Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver sixth, electing to pair the bigger ball-handler with star Devin Booker.
Throw in the factor of what’s expected to be a wild free agency period in the NBA, and the options are out there. At this point, it’s just hard to determine which direction the Suns want to go.
Making it known they might be willing to trade their first-round pick, however, is a good way to spark some conversations with other teams in order to mull their options.