Trade Candidate: Brandon Knight

As the February 23 trade deadline nears, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at several players we consider trade candidates, discussing their value, speculating on potential destinations, and explaining why they are – or should be – available. These players won’t necessarily be dealt in advance of the deadline, but it won’t be surprising if they are.
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Brandon Knight
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Phoenix Suns
2016/17 salary: $12,606,250
Eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2020
Trade restrictions: None

Brandon Knight finds himself in an awkward position with the Suns. As a 25-year-old former lottery pick, Knight should be enjoying the prime of his career.

Instead, he’s on the fringes of the rotation for a rebuilding team. Thanks to the last contract he signed, Knight has financial security. What he needs now is a chance to revive his career but that contract could prevent that from happening.

The Suns are actively shopping the combo guard, which they already were doing prior to the season, but they’re having difficulty finding a taker. Knight is making $12.6MM this season and has three years remaining on the deal, which will pay him approximately $13.6MM, $14.6MM and $15.6MM the next three seasons.

On draft status alone, Knight projected to be one of the league’s best point guards by this time. He was selected eighth overall in 2011 by the Pistons, who were in desperate need of a floor leader and viewed Knight as the long-term solution.

Knight got a trial-by-fire introduction into the NBA, jumping right into a starting role on one of the league’s worst teams. After just two seasons, the Pistons soured on Knight’s ability to run their offense. His assist-to-turnover ratios — 3.8-2.6 and 4.0-2.7 — spoke of Knight’s struggles as a floor leader.

During the 2013 off-season, he was shipped along with Khris Middleton to the Bucks for Brandon Jennings. Knight immediately became the Bucks’ lead point guard and lasted 1 1/2 seasons there before they, too, decided they needed an upgrade at that spot. Milwaukee acquired Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers in a three-way, trade deadline deal and sent Knight to Phoenix.

With Eric Bledsoe already in place as the starting point guard, Knight was shifted to shooting guard. He averaged a career-high 19.6 points while starting in 50 of 52 games during an injury-riddled 2015/16 campaign.

The biggest problem for Knight is that the Suns made a wise draft choice prior to last season. They uncovered a gem with a 13th overall pick, selecting offensively-gifted two guard Devin Booker.

Knight has been relegated to a bench role this season and the adjustment hasn’t gone well. Advanced statistics rate Knight’s offensive performance as the worst of his career and his always suspect defense has also suffered.

He has lost playing time to rookie Tyler Ulis and veteran Leandro Barbosa because coach Earl Watson was unhappy with Knight’s defensive effort. He hasn’t played the last two games, apparently because of wrist tendinitis, though he has played sparingly over the past month anyway.

Undoubtedly, Knight needs another fresh start. He may not have lived up to his draft status but he can be a productive rotation player in the mold of a Jamal Crawford, providing instant offense off the bench.

Knight may be turnover prone but he’s a solid shooter — 41.4% overall, 35.9% percent from long range and 81.0% from the free throw line during his career. He posted positive Offensive Box Plus.Minus ratings over the last three seasons, ranging from 1.2 to 2.0, according to Basketball Reference.

Any potential suitor will have to value his offense over his defensive shortcomings. His career Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating is minus 1.9 and he’s never finished on the positive side in any season.

The length of his contract, if not the salary commitment, is the biggest impediment to trading Knight. The dollar figures aren’t as scary as they might have been a couple years ago, thanks to the ever-rising salary cap. But a contract with three years left and no team options has to give pause to any GM or team president that might see a role for Knight on his club.

An unnamed front office exec told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro that there is virtually no trade market for Knight.
In order to rid himself on Knight’s contract, Suns GM Ryan McDonough will probably need to package a desirable young player or draft pick with him. Phoenix drafted two power forwards — Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender — and taking on Knight’s contract could be a stipulation for any team that desires one of those young bigs.

The Suns could alternatively try to boost Knight’s trade prospects by packaging a first-round pick. They’ll obviously have a juicy lottery pick this summer and don’t owe anyone a future first-rounder at the time being. They could also dangle the protected 2018 first-rounder that the Heat owe them.

With aging Tyson Chandler still in the starting lineup, the Suns could be in the market for a center. They might also seek an upgrade over their small forward duo of T.J. Warren and P.J. Tucker.

Right now, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious landing spot for Knight. The Cavaliers are the only contender known to be shopping for point guard help but their salary-cap issues make that an unlikely scenario.

The Grizzlies might want some backcourt help behind Mike Conley and Tony Allen, taking into account Conley’s recent injury history. Knight could also give a bench boost to the Wizards behind the John WallBradley Beal duo.

Non-contenders like the Knicks, Kings and Heat could also emerge if a young big or high draft pick is part of the proposal. Sacramento reportedly has shown interest for months but the loss of Rudy Gay to an Achilles tendon tear could change their priorities.

If the Suns are unable to move Knight before the trade deadline, he’ll simply have to live with a backup role for at least the remainder of the season.

What do you think? Should the Suns trade or keep Knight? Weigh in below in the comments section with your thoughts and possible trade ideas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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37 thoughts on “Trade Candidate: Brandon Knight

  1. RickPeteRoss

    Bucks should give Knight a 2nd look… could help the backcourt a lot

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    • bookpeeps

      I was thinking the same thing! Especially if Chriss might be able to come over too. Not sure how that would affect the Bucks roster, but if we could get Chriss I’d be willing to send Vaughn over or drop Novak off the roster.

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      • DarkGhost

        There is a zero percent chance Chriss is involved in the deal if Vaughn or Novak is the return that’s just absurd

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        • bookpeeps

          I would agree, but the way the article was written, it seemed to say that Phoenix would give up Chriss just to get rid of Knight. Depending on what they would want on top of that and whether or not we were still in the playoff hunt I would be hard pressed not to take them up on it. None of the big three would be involved, but I’d listen on anyone else. Not sure they would be interested anyway with Middleton coming back soon.

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          • DarkGhost

            Maybe you could talk the suns into sending a future first or one of the Miami picks away if it helps get rid of knight but the return is going to have to end something much better than Vaughn or Novak

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      • You are completely insane if you think the Suns would trade Chriss. I don’t even think the Suns are going to trade Knight. I think they are going to stand pat. I have no problem if they trade Knight, however I think they really would like Knight to adjust to being a back up guard.

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  2. Take some teams expiring contracts or a low 1st rounder. But never ever give up your own 1st. Remember Kurt Thomas!!!

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  3. rgreen

    J.Okafor for Knight and the right to swap 1st Rd picks and Miamis pick

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    • Z-A

      I wouldn’t do the trade. Simply need injury insurance for Embiid and they can control him cheaply for 2 years + RFA. Figure out SG through the draft or FA cheaper options than BKnight.

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      • rgreen

        We’d still have Noel and Holmes as insurance for Embiid.and even if Noel leaves,we could get another insurance option in the draft or free agency.not sure if you’re getting a cheaper g option in free agency when tyler Johnson is getting 50m and Allen Crabbe is getting max money.and getting the right to swap picks would improve our chances of getting the top pick.and then the Miami pick whIle there’s a possibility that they trade Dragic and/or Whiteside could end up really valuable as well.top 7 protected in 2018,then unprotected in 2019.for the 6ers,this is probably as good a deal as we’d get for either OK or Noel.

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        • Noel is no guarantee to be on the roster and no guarantee they even match. Yes you have the nets overpaying for any RFA. And I fully expect them to trade Lopez for picks and go after Noel. However if the market isn’t crazy for Noel he could be brought back and then revisit Okafors value.

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          • rgreen

            If we can improve our chances at getting the 1st pick this year,while adding another pick in the future,Okafor or Noel can go.Holmes gives us insurance.all 4 should be getting minutes,and there’s always atleast 1 not getting any.

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    • smittybanton

      I can dig it.

      But how about Gerald Henderson’s expiring contract for Brandon Knight and 2017 swap rights?

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      • rgreen

        I’d do that 1 as well.improve out chances at getting 1 for basicly eating Knights contract.

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    • DarkGhost

      What on earth makes you think Okafor is worth knight and 3 first round picks?

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      • rgreen

        That’s 1 1st Rd pick(Miamis) and the right to swap another.Okafor and Knight are basicly equal as far as being good offensive players with defensive deficiencies,but Knight is making 14mil per year while Okafor is on a rookie contract.6ers would be eating like 35-40m.

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        • rgreen

          And the potential is still there for Okafor to be a 20-10 player.tell me where else are the Suns getting that type of potential for Knight.this article tells ya they might have to package a young player or a draft pick just to get rid of Knight.

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          • DarkGhost

            I’ll let you know right now there is no chance at all the suns are giving up the Miami picks which between the two only have 1 year of production for okafor.

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              • rgreen

                Nobody wants to take on Knights contract.they might have to give up 1 of those picks just to get somebody to take it w/o getting anything of value in return.

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                • DarkGhost

                  I didn’t say they wouldn’t trade the Miami puck picks. I said they wouldn’t trade those picks for okafor. I’m sure they would be willing to move a pick or two to help get rid of night but they are going to want something a lot better than okafor to get rid of those picks.

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            • rgreen

              Okafor has 2 years of control,not 1.he has an option for 18/19.

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  4. Grizzlies need to sign veteran Toney Douglas back . He help them win games while mike Conley was out . He is a 2 way pg can defend and shoot the ball and make plays . Don’t know why the let him go . Andrew Harrison not getting it done , especially if the want to go far in the playoffs !

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  5. Ayy-Aron

    Timofey Mozgov and his contract for Knight. If they are so motivated to rid him and LA needs a three point shooter.

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  6. I still wonder why the Bucks got rid of him. They basically swapped him for 1 1/2 seasons of MCW. Though with Brogdon on a hot streak right now, I think Milwaukee is in good shape with Delly off the bench. As for Knight, I think the Kings and Sixers might be the 2 teams to go after him. One team I would like to see trade for Knight would be Dallas, who could use a young scoring PG. Dallas has always been hesitant on adding younger players, but with Dirk getting older and the team playing younger players, they could groom Knight into that role.

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  7. All we know is that over a few games Okafor and Embiid do not fit on the court together. No clue what Okafor and Simmons produce. Simmons is a better passer and threat Rodriguez and McConnell and Stauskas. I can wait another year.

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  8. Spurskid

    Sun get jonathan simmons 2017 fist round draft pick
    Spurs get brandon knight

    Thoughts????

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  9. Spurskid

    Suns get danny green,jonathan simmons, patty mills 2017 first round draft pick
    Spurs get brandon knight, devin booker

    Thoughts??

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      • Or playing games. Nobody could seriously think his proposed trades make any sense. Booker? Budding young 20 year old superstar. Yes, rebuilding teams trade those guys all the time for over 30 vets and low draft picks.

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  10. With Warren under the wings booker
    Suns are doin a diservice to Warren
    I think the Suns should ship him to OKC for
    Roberson. He adds defense and a little bit of scoring
    Warren gets to start with a playoff team and a better start then he had with the Suns

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  11. Trade him for either a guy with some positive value, or another guy with (perceived) negative value. But it’s almost always a mistake to so focus on getting rid of a (perceived) bad contract that you part with other valuable assets to do it. The exception would be if you need to do it to clear cap space immediately to sign a FA or make a trade that’s right there to be made. Cavs made a bunch of these deals to get the space to sign LeBron 2 years ago. But who knows whether the Suns will even have use for the cap space they obtain by jettisoning Knight, and who knows if Knight (still a young player) will turn it around and have value again, particularly as some more years come off his contract.

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  12. Knight numbers are not as bad as these sports writers are claiming. If Knight was getting the 32 minutes that Bledsoe is getting he would be averaging just slightly less than 20 ppg. His % would also go up. The sport writers must of flunked math.

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    • Reggie Green

      The problem is that he had those minutes plus some in his 1st year and a half there,and he put up close to that 20 a night,and then he still lost those minutes.

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  13. Actually his average has dropped recently and it would be only 17. I week ago it was about 20.

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