Pacific Notes: Suns, Ayton, Crowder, Lakers, Toscano-Anderson

The 40-9 Suns currently sport the best record in the NBA, thanks in large part to the All-Star performances of guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker, as well as terrific play from center Deandre Ayton, small forward Mikal Bridges, and a revamped roster with additional depth. John Hollinger of The Athletic reflects on the team’s season thus far and considers some trade possibilities for Phoenix in an extensive new article.

Hollinger wonders if the Suns may look to improve their reserve guard slots behind Paul and Booker. He floats the possibility of offloading trade packages including intriguing young center Jalen Smith, injured big man Frank Kaminsky and a future first-round pick in exchange for veteran shooting guards like Norman Powell or Eric Gordon.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Suns center Deandre Ayton and power forward Jae Crowder are returning from injuries to suit up for Phoenix tonight against the Nets, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Ayton has been sidelined for seven straight games with an ankle injury, while Crowder has been grappling with a mild wrist injury for the past four contests.
  • The 24-27 Lakers have not enjoyed the level of success they expected after making an all-in trade for point guard Russell Westbrook during the summer of 2021. Bobby Marks of ESPN outlines exactly how difficult it will be for Los Angeles to make significant roster changes by the trade deadline this season. L.A. is currently just the ninth seed in the Western Conference, thanks in part to various injuries incurred by All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis throughout the season so far. Marks cites Westbrook’s exorbitant contract (he is owed $91.3MM across these next two seasons, an All-Star salary for sub-All-Star production), the Lakers’ lack of future draft picks, and the team’s lackluster depth as factors for what he anticipates to be a relatively quiet deadline.
  • Athletic third-year Warriors swingman Juan Toscano-Anderson will take part in the 2022 Slam Dunk Contest at this season’s All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link).
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