Yahoo! report: Suns eyed Jordan Clarkson, K.J. Martin as Jae Crowder remains in limbo
Jae Crowder’s absence from the Phoenix Suns remains as the parties attempt to find a trade partner for the veteran forward.
Crowder is in some combination dissatisfied about his potential role with Phoenix and his future contract that ends after this coming season.
While a number of NBA teams seemingly would be interested, there’s good reason the Suns have not been able to swing a trade — many that we’ve covered here.
But in a deep dive into the Crowder situation from Yahoo! Sports’ Jake Fischer, a few new names of Suns targets were added to the list.
Fischer reports the Suns inquired with the Utah Jazz about landing microwave-scoring guard Jordan Clarkson — it has already been reported Phoenix pursued forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Jarred Vanderbilt.
In recent transaction cycles, Phoenix has explored adding greater ball-handling depth behind Chris Paul and Devin Booker. And Jordan Clarkson, one of the many veterans thought to be available in Utah, is one dynamic guard the Suns have inquired about landing in exchange for Crowder, sources said. Would Phoenix be willing to attach draft capital in that scenario? That outcome would seem to result in Crowder securing a buyout from Utah, and then his pick of destination, albeit at an unknown salary.
Clarkson, 30, averaged 16.0 points and 2.5 assists last season, but he struggled with efficiency, going 42% from the field and 32% from three.
Clarkson makes $13.3 million this coming season and $14.3 million next before his contract ends.
The Suns also had “ongoing talks about obtaining” Houston Rockets forward K.J. Martin, according to Fischer. Martin reportedly has requested a trade this offseason.
The son of former NBA player Kenyon Martin, the 6-foot-7 K.J. martin is just 21 years old with 124 games of experience under his belt.
For his career, he has averaged 9.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 52% overall and 36% from three-point range on limited attempts (2.1 per 22 minutes per game).
But like the Utah situation, the Suns would need to reroute Crowder to loop Houston into any trade.
In short, sending Crowder to a rebuilding team makes little sense. Meanwhile, contenders don’t have assets they’d want to swap with the Suns in exchange for Crowder. Many of the fitting landing spots for Crowder already have players at his position who are younger and are also up for contract extensions (see Boston with Grant Williams or Atlanta with De’Andre Hunter).
That’s the bottom line.
It also doesn’t help that Phoenix has handled this situation peculiarly. Knowing their DNA, it makes sense that they desire ready-to-contribute players over draft picks.
What doesn’t make sense to executives across the league is that the Suns have essentially tanked Crowder’s stock, anonymous front office leaders told Fischer:
“I thought the way Phoenix played the situation was strange,” one Western Conference executive told Yahoo Sports. “You’re not a super deep team. You’re a contender. Doesn’t it seem like there’s some other way to resolve this other than him sitting out and hurting your depth?”
“For Jae to hold out is pretty rare. It’s pretty extreme,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “It’s really interesting they didn’t just play hardball with him.”
“You would have to really think he takes you over the top,” one assistant general manager told Yahoo Sports. “Phoenix either has something in its pocket, that they know is good enough for them, or they’re bluffing. We’ll see what happens come D Day, come opening night.”