Thursday’s NBA draft could offer a glimpse of how the Phoenix Suns will be attacking this offseason, beginning with Deandre Ayton’s restricted free agency and beyond, and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has a mock draft on Tuesday with a doozy of a nugget on a few drop levels .
Givony reports that there are rumors the Suns could be looking to break into the draft top-10 – and that the move could improve the salary cap situation if team center Deandre Ayton were kept. Among the New Orleans Pelicans’ No. 8 overall pick in the mock draft, Givony added the following:
The Phoenix Suns are said to be one of the teams potentially looking at trade scenarios here, possibly with a player like Cameron Johnson to add salary cap flexibility to keep Deandre Ayton. New Orleans has four surefire starters and a wealth of young talent at every position, giving it tremendous depth and role players to plug virtually any hole.
That tidbit is one of the few reports this offseason that includes evidence Phoenix will be looking to keep Ayton, who is seeking a maximum contract he didn’t get from the Suns via an extension last offseason.
Johnson is poised for that summer rookie deal extension, and moving him as a key player in a trade would certainly help the Suns cut costs going forward as he earns nearly £20 after the 2022 year could demand millions of dollars. 23 season. Even if you swapped that salary for a top 10 rookie contract, you’d save more than $10 million each year before even factoring in the luxury taxes Phoenix is likely to tip the scales starting next year.
Trading Johnson, one of the league’s top shooters, for a rookie in the top-10 would help the Suns bring back rotary-caliber talent.
Givony has G League Ignite combo guard Dyson Daniels eighth overall and the 19-year-old, our Kellan Olson wrote, could be developing behind Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
Daniel’s combination of size and passing ability as a ball carrier is enticing. I keep bringing up how tall he is because he’s almost 6ft 8 for a keeper. That’s more important now than ever considering how incredibly athletic the everyday NBA player is, and if Daniels is never going to be a main instigator, he could still be a playmaker.
Other players that could be available in this elusive #8 lottery are Arizona winger Bennedict Mathurin, Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis, Duke forward AJ Griffin, Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji, and Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan.
Those are just a few players that might be available at #8.
More than guessing who might be of interest to the Suns, it’s important to note that a New Orleans trade would make a lot of sense for Phoenix. As Givony notes — and as Suns fans likely know from the first round of the playoffs — the Pelicans don’t necessarily need a rookie contributor to take the next step as a team.
A deal with a roster 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 rosters.