Suns finalize trade of Jalen Smith to Pacers for Torrey Craig

Feb 10, 2022, 12:13 PM | Updated: 8:10 pm

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to trade Jalen Smith and a future second-round pick to the Indiana Pacers to reacquire forward Torrey Craig, the team announced Thursday.

The move was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

In a corresponding move, Phoenix waived forward Abdel Nader and released forward Justin Jackson.

Smith was drafted by the Suns No. 10 overall out of Maryland in the 2019 NBA Draft.

His 2021-22 contract pays out $4.5 million and will expire after this season after Phoenix did not pick up the third year of his rookie deal this past offseason.

The contract makes it a straight and easy swap with Craig’s $4.9 million salary for this season.

Craig joined the Suns last March in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, a move by the eventual NBA champions to clear up a roster spot. The 30-year-old immediately established himself as one of the best defenders and rebounders on Phoenix, continuing to earn playing time despite the Suns’ depth on the wing.

He signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Pacers this offseason before Indiana tumbled down the standings and opted for resetting at the trade deadline.

Craig was averaging 6.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists over 19 minutes per game with Indiana. He’s shooting 46% overall and 33% from three-point range.

Playing behind a deep big man rotation in his first season, Smith had a turbulent rookie campaign, averaging only two points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.2 blocks across 27 games (one start).

The Suns declined to pick up Smith’s third-year option prior to this season, meaning that  he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. It is a rarity for a first-round lottery selection not to have the third year of their rookie contract picked up by the team that drafted them. The decision axed Smith’s $4.7 million salary in 2022-23 and $6 million deal in 2023-24 off the team’s cap sheet.

Phoenix head coach Monty Williams has admitted that Smith was drafted with a projection of a playmaking power forward, but the Suns have since found him having more success as a small-ball center. Retaining Smith was less necessary for the Suns, who have Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee, Bismack Biyombo, plus the potential returns of Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric to consider in the frontcourt.

With that said, Smith has come on in his sophomore season, bumping his numbers up to 6.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game in 29 appearances (four starts).

He had a six-game streak of scoring in double-digits from Dec. 27 to Jan. 6 with Ayton and McGee in and out of the lineup for various reasons.

Phoenix Suns

Former Suns head coach Monty Williams...

Arizona Sports

Pistons agree to deal with former Suns HC Monty Williams

Former Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has agreed to a six-year deal worth $72 million to coach the Detroit Pistons.

19 hours ago

Frank Vogel, Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns...

Kevin Zimmerman

What does Frank Vogel’s hire tell us about how Suns build the roster?

Frank Vogel agreeing to become the Phoenix Suns' head coach gives us a North Star of sorts for how the team will begin constructing a roster.

19 hours ago

Frank Vogel...

Dan Bickley

Frank Vogel more than enough coach to lead Suns over championship hump

Frank Vogel is a solid choice, more than enough head coach to get where the Suns need to go. Now comes the hard part.

19 hours ago

Former Suns F Mikal Bridges' Paradise Valley home for sale...

Arizona Sports

Former Suns forward Mikal Bridges sells Valley home for $6.68 million

It didn't take long for former Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges to sell his luxurious Paradise Valley home.

19 hours ago

Head Coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers coaches against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena o...

Kellan Olson

Frank Vogel sets tone for Suns’ makeover, steps toward 1st title

Hiring Frank Vogel is a solid yet fairly predictable and uninspiring direction from the Suns. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

19 hours ago

Frank Vogel...

Arizona Sports

Positive reactions flood social media after Suns’ hiring of head coach Frank Vogel

Twenty days after the Phoenix Suns parted ways with one head coach, they hired another with the addition of Frank Vogel on Friday.

19 hours ago

Suns finalize trade of Jalen Smith to Pacers for Torrey Craig