It was less than two years ago that the Suns sent Miles Plumlee and a first-round pick out as part of a three-team trade that netted them Brandon Knight. Phoenix signed Knight to a lucrative extension in the summer of 2015, and he seemed poised to become a huge part of the team’s future, but as we approach 2017, Knight’s place in the Suns’ long-term plan doesn’t look quite as clear.
The emergence of 2015 first-rounder Devin Booker has made the Suns reevaluate the roles of Knight and Eric Bledsoe, both now and going forward. Booker certainly isn’t going anywhere, and an October report from ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested the team doesn’t want to move Bledsoe either, which leaves Knight as a potential odd man out. A strong start this season would have helped create a palatable trade market for Knight if the Suns wanted to deal him, Lowe wrote at the time.
Twelve games into the season though, that strong start hasn’t materialized. It’s still very early, but so far, Knight has posted career-worst marks in PPG (12.8), FG% (.377), 3PT% (.286), and APG (3.2), signaling that the transition to a bench role hasn’t been a smooth one. Still, in an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7FM, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said his club won’t rush into any major roster changes, and isn’t considering trading the veteran guard at this point.
“We’re certainly not looking to move Brandon, we haven’t been close to trading Brandon,” McDonough said. “I think he’d love to be starting, we understand that. He’s accepted the role very well. I think you guys will see him go on a run here. As you know, watching him play the last couple years, he has the ability to get hot and put up a lot of points in a hurry and take over stretches of games — he hasn’t done that yet for us consistently but I think it’s coming.”
The Suns loaded up on young frontcourt talent in this year’s draft, using a pair of top-eight picks to snag Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, but most of the team’s notable current contributors are guards or wings — Booker, Bledsoe, Knight, and small forward T.J. Warren are Phoenix’s top four scorers, with shooting guard Jared Dudley tied for fifth. If the Suns were to consider trading Knight, they could target a big man, or perhaps a shooter. A future draft pick or two would likely also appeal to the Suns, who aren’t necessarily looking to contend immediately.
Still, there’s no rush to move Knight. As McDonough notes, the 24-year-old is streaky and his stock isn’t particularly high at this point. He’s also under contract through 2019/2020, meaning the Suns can be patient and assess how their pieces all fit together as Booker, Warren, and the young bigs continue to develop.
What do you think? Should the Suns be looking to move Knight before this year’s deadline to address other areas of need, or to add future picks? Or should they wait things out, knowing that they could still trade Knight a year or two from now if their areas of need become more obvious by that point? Jump into the comments section and weigh in with your thoughts!