Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels has drawn “increasing interest” around the NBA as a potential trade candidate, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link). The Suns are among the clubs monitoring McDaniels as the February 9 trade deadline nears, according to Charania.
McDaniels, who will turn 25 later this month, is enjoying a breakout season in Charlotte, averaging career highs in points (10.9), rebounds (4.9), assists (2.1), and steals (1.1) per game, among other categories.
A fourth-year forward, McDaniels saw his playing time dip to a career-low 16.3 minutes per game under James Borrego last season, but has become a key rotation contributor for new head coach Steve Clifford in 2022/23, logging a career-high 26.5 MPG. He’s also one of just two Hornets to have appeared in all 41 games so far this season, along with Mason Plumlee.
McDaniels’ length, defensive versatility, and ability to make threes (.352 career 3PT%) will make him a popular trade target if the Hornets are willing to move him. Charania notes that the former second-round pick would make sense for Phoenix in a potential Jae Crowder deal, though a third team would almost certainly need to be involved, since Charlotte wouldn’t be a logical fit for Crowder.
Because McDaniels wasn’t a first-round pick, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent – rather than restricted – at the end of his fourth season this summer, and Charania suggests he’ll be “sought after” on the open market. That could make the Suns and other teams hesitant to give up too much for him — McDaniels’ club would have his Bird rights, but wouldn’t be able to control his free agency by unilaterally matching any offer he receives.