ESPN’s Windhorst: Suns could trade Jackson in 24 hours if they had to
The domino that has yet to fall in the Phoenix Suns’ offseason is the long-speculated departure of second-year wing Josh Jackson.
The No. 4 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft has been a disappointment through two seasons, particularly in his second year when there wasn’t much improvement from year one.
Jackson shot 41.3% from the field last season and barely averaged more assists (2.3 per game) than turnovers (2.0).
With the Suns recently drafting Mikal Bridges and the rookie playing well in year one, Jackson’s future in Phoenix is even murkier depending on what happens with restricted free agent Kelly Oubre Jr. There’s also the team’s most recent first-round pick, Cam Johnson, at No. 11 of the 2019 NBA Draft.
While the Suns would like to hold onto Jackson to make sure he isn’t the player they thought he would be out of Kansas, the issue is Jackson makes over $7 million next season and has a team option for the 2019-20 season set at $8.9 million. That’s the price of a steady rotation piece and Jackson has failed to prove he’s that.
Thus, the Suns’ clearest route to opening up more cap space in free agency this offseason is dealing Jackson, and according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, he believes it won’t be difficult to do.
“I think they can trade Josh Jackson in 24 hours if they had to,” he told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta Friday.
But as Windhorst points out, patience is in the interest of the Suns.
“You don’t do it unless you know you have the other deal,” he said. “And the thing is, if you’re chasing restricted free agents like (Malcolm) Brogdon or you’re chasing a restricted free agent like D’Angelo Russell, you may not know whether you’re going to be able to get those guys until July 8 and then the deal that you may have on June 30 for Josh Jackson may be a lot different by July 8.
“If you’re going to give away a player for free, which is what they did with T.J. Warren, you better have a plan for the money.”
With Warren, the team has already spent most of the money they opened up on next season’s salary cap books.
Warren makes $10.8 million next year while new acquisitions Aron Baynes ($5.4 million), Ty Jerome ($2.1 million) and Dario Saric ($3.4 million) fill out nearly all of that space. The extra benefit of the trade is the Suns opening up room in 2020-21 and 2021-22, when Warren was going to make $11.75 million and $12.69 million, respectively.
Jackson, of course, has had his off-the-court issues as well.
On May 10, Jackson was charged with resisting arrest and escape while attending the Rolling Loud music festival after attempting to enter a VIP area multiple times without a proper pass. Jackson was also fined $20,000 by the team for skipping a Suns-sponsored autograph session last season.
And just this month, Jackson was accused by his child’s mother of using marijuana and getting his four-month-old high.
The start of the new league year and the official beginning of free agency is 3 p.m. on Sunday.