Suns make draft-day deals involving Johnson, Jerome, Saric, Baynes official
LAS VEGAS — With the NBA’s moratorium lifting on Saturday morning, various trades made across the league became official, including three made by the Phoenix Suns on the day of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Due to the trades only becoming official on Saturday, it was expected for Suns rookies Ty Jerome and Cam Johnson would join the team’s summer league roster in Las Vegas after being previously left off. Both players were in Vegas and were seen with Suns players Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges Friday night.
The Suns, though, decided Jerome and Johnson would not play in summer league, feeling they were behind in practice and training.
On draft day, the Suns moved down from sixth to No. 11 in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves that had Phoenix also acquire power forward Dario Saric.
With the deal not being official on the night, No. 6 pick Jarrett Culver donned a Suns draft cap while the Suns’ pick Johnson wasn’t a Sun until Saturday.
Johnson, 23, was one of the best shooters in his draft class, posting a 3-point percentage over 45% in his senior year for North Carolina. Depending on if the team brings back restricted free agent Kelly Oubre Jr. or not, Johnson could be in a position to fight for any leftover scrap minutes in the forward rotation.
Saric is expected to be the team’s starting power forward on opening night. In the last year of his rookie deal before becoming a restricted free agent, the 25-year-old can space the floor while making plays with his toughness and crafty skill on the ball. Free agent signing Frank Kaminsky will fill out the position with Saric.
Jerome was picked No. 24 overall by the Suns after Phoenix dealt a protected 2020 first-round pick from the Milwaukee Picks to the Boston Celtics while also acquiring center Aron Baynes in the deal.
The combo guard Jerome, like Johnson, is primarily known for his shooting. He hit nearly 40% of his 198 attempts for Virginia last season. Jerome will have to beat out the likes of Tyler Johnson and Elie Okobo for reserve guard minutes behind Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio.
Baynes is well respected around the league for his toughness and made his mark in Boston the past two seasons, averaging 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game. The 32-year-old is expected to back up former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton in the center rotation, replacing Richaun Holmes’ role from last season.
Phoenix traded forward T.J. Warren and the No. 32 pick in the draft to the Indiana Pacers for cash, which turned into a three-team deal when the Pacers flipped that pick to the Miami Heat for three second-round picks.
The 25-year-old was in year two of a four-year contract extension. With the deal, the Suns opened up $10.8 million in cap space for the upcoming season, most of which they used on Baynes ($5.4 million), Jerome ($2.1 million) and Saric ($3.4 million).
Despite Warren’s scoring acumen (18.0 points per game) and improved 3-point shooting (42.8%), the forward was seen as a player who didn’t fit in the Suns’ long-term picture and Phoenix was able to open up flexibility by getting off his long-term money.