By shipping out Knight and Chriss, Suns GM moves on from mistakes

Aug 30, 2018, 9:55 PM | Updated: Aug 31, 2018, 4:05 pm

“Is it really going to be Brandon Knight?”

That was the question asked regarding the Phoenix Suns’ point guard situation. And on Thursday night, we found out the answer to that question when general manager Ryan McDonough traded Knight and Marquese Chriss to the Houston Rockets for De’Anthony Melton and Ryan Anderson.

The 26-year-old Knight had his brief time in the NBA where he was a valued point guard, but his three-plus years in Phoenix have mostly been a dumpster fire.

He was below average in the 2015-16 season, and the future backcourt including Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker was clearly the move the team had to make. The Suns benched Knight, and despite his on-court effort going a few ticks up, he performed as one of the worst players in the league.

Knight then, unfortunately, tore his ACL the following offseason, entering a year in which Phoenix surely would have liked to see what he had left after trading Bledsoe to the Bucks three games played into the season. With that injury, Knight’s season ended and he crossed the halfway point of his five-year, $70 million contract extension having contributed little to the Suns.

McDonough entered this season with no Bledsoe, no top selection used on a point guard and no large acquisition on the trade or free agent market.

There were stories written about Knight’s change in demeanor, a realization that he needed that change to be successful again in the NBA.

McDonough and the Suns wouldn’t fail to mention Knight in interviews, raving about the work he was doing off the court and the potential they believed he still had to be a quality NBA point guard.

Those stories and words wound up not mattering at all.

With the trade, McDonough sent a signal that he was ready to move on from two of his biggest failures as the GM of the Phoenix Suns.

Those two failures were also his two biggest gambles and most aggressive moves prior to this offseason.

McDonough has waited, and waited, and waited with assets, eyeing the next disgruntled All-Star or a younger player with the potential to reach that level to become available.

The closest he has gotten to pulling the trigger on that move was trading for Knight in 2015, a scoring guard who nearly made the All-Star team with the Bucks and could form a dynamic two-way backcourt with Bledsoe. The two never meshed well on the court, and the emergence of Booker quickly ended any possibility of that long-term pairing.

In the 2016 NBA Draft, McDonough fell in love with two power forwards so much he had to trade up to select Chriss at No. 8 after just picking Dragan Bender fourth, sending out two first-round picks and the moderately valuable Bogdan Bogdanovic along the way.

Whether the plan was for Bender and Chriss to play together long-term or switch off in a frontcourt rotation remains to be seen. What is undeniable, however, is he had major plans for both, and both players have massively underachieved as former top 10 picks through two seasons.

The move is not about Ryan Anderson’s stretch-four ability or De’Antony Melton’s long-term fit next to Booker. Anderson is far beyond his prime, and don’t forget the Suns just selected Elie Okobo over Melton in June’s draft.

The move is about moving on, and by moving on from those mistakes, McDonough has now sealed in cement that both of those gambles were complete, unmitigated disasters.

Penguin Air

Empire of the Suns

Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game Five of the Western Conference...
Kellan Olson

Ish Wainright returns to Phoenix Suns on 2-way contract, per report

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to a two-way contract with forward Ish Wainright, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
12 days ago
(Twitter photo/@KellanOlson)...
Kellan Olson

Cam Johnson’s connection to Valley strengthens with 3-on-3 tournament

The Phoenix Suns' Cam Johnson can confidently call the Valley his second home and keeps finding ways to connect to the community.
16 days ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after hitting a three-point shot against the New Orl...
Kellan Olson

Suns’ Cam Johnson hears trade rumors, focused on offseason growth

Phoenix Suns wing Cam Johnson hears the noise of trade rumors this summer and understands the business side of the NBA.
16 days ago
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the second half of the Eastern Conference 2022...
Kellan Olson

Will Phoenix Suns abandon team-building principles to land Kevin Durant?

The Phoenix Suns must decide how badly they want Kevin Durant and how long they are willing to wait to make it happen.
18 days ago
Tyson Carter #11 of the Phoenix Suns is fouled as he drives to the basket by Craig Sword #32 of the...
Kellan Olson

Summer Suns wrap up play in Las Vegas with win over Pacers

Phoenix Suns basketball came to a close this summer with an 84-69 win in Summer League play over the Indiana Pacers.
29 days ago
Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns is fouled by Quenton Jackson #3 of the Washington Wizards dur...
Kellan Olson

Summer Suns fall to Kings; Ish Wainright’s future in Phoenix

The Phoenix Suns' second-to-last Summer League game was an 82-69 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
1 month ago
By shipping out Knight and Chriss, Suns GM moves on from mistakes