Let’s take a look at five teams that should trade for Brandon Knight since the Phoenix Suns are underutilizing him.
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Nov 23, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight (11) pounds his chest after hitting a 3 point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. The Suns won 92-87. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
The roller coaster known as “Brandon Knight’s career” looks like it’s on one of those steep declines. It’s the type of decline that makes you feel like your stomach is about to fly out of your mouth.
Knight was originally drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. At the time, he was considered to be their point guard of the future. However, it never came to fruition in Detroit and Knight was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a deal for Brandon Jennings.
Knight’s career seemed to finally take off with the Bucks as he averaged nearly 18 points per game with them. He appeared destined to become an All-Star since his game and confidence were trending in the right direction. Just when things seemed to be going right for him, Knight was traded once again. This time, it was to the Phoenix Suns under the tutelage of then-head coach Jeff Hornacek.
Apparently, Hornacek understood how to get the most out of Knight since the former Kentucky Wildcat had his best scoring season under him. Along with Eric Bledsoe, Hornacek rolled out a two-guard system that had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, he was fired by the Suns and Earl Watson took over the reins in Phoenix.
Knight now receives less than 25 minutes per game and is coming off the bench in a sixth man role. His scoring, a strength of his game, is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year. As a result, his talents are being wasted and need a change of scenery. There are several teams that can make better use of Brandon’s abilities than Phoenix is. Let’s take a look at five of them.
Dec 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) and center Joel Embiid (21) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the 76ers 123-116. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
5. Philadelphia 76ers
Some might think this doesn’t make much sense since the Philadelphia 76ers are a bad team with an 8-24 record. However, the Suns are just as bad as them with a 10-24 record. The important difference between the two teams is their respective roster needs.
Philadelphia’s frontcourt logjam of Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova needs immediate addressing. Additionally, their backcourt situation needs major improvement since players like Sergio Rodriguez .
On the Phoenix side, it appears as if they could benefit from adding a post player with a bit more experience than rookies Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. Chriss and Bender have potential, but they’re probably a couple of years away from being able to contribute effectively.
The Suns do have Tyson Chandler and Alex Len, but they can do better than that. Chandler’s been playing admirably, but he’s approaching retirement within the next three seasons. Additionally, Len’s upside is limited, but he can still be a solid contributor if he receives close to 30 minutes of court time.
This makes a pending trade between the 76ers and the Suns seem like a very good idea. Philadelphia can send Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor to Phoenix in exchange for Knight and it would be a valid trade. Brandon would be an immediate upgrade for the Sixers’ backcourt. He is a better scorer than any guard on their current roster and backcourt scoring is a dire need for their team. I’m sure that Knight would prefer to go to a team that wins more, but the opportunity to start again is a hard one to pass up.
As for the addition of Noel or Okafor, both are clearly more established than Chriss and Bender. A combination of Noel and Len can be a daunting one in terms of rim protection and board crashing. Additionally, we can’t ignore Nerlens’ developing offensive skills and the fact that he’s still only 22 years old. His presence would give Phoenix a very bright future. As for Okafor, since post scoring is a need in Phoenix, he immediately resolves that issue and is still improving as a player.
As far as I see it, it would be a wise move for the 76ers to trade for Brandon Knight. He addresses a huge need for them while they can address his need for more playing time.
Dec 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Darren Erman takes over for head coach Alvin Gentry (not pictured) after he was ejected during the second quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
4. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have a pretty good stable of guards right now with Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Tim Frazier. However, Holiday and Evans are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. There’s a strong chance that one or both of them will sign with another team. Therefore, it might be in their best interest to trade for a guard that’s a good fit and a few years still left on his contract. Knight fits that bill perfectly and his addition can take some of the scoring burden off of Anthony Davis’ shoulders.
According to ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, Evans or Holiday can be swapped for Knight straight up. The only question that remains is if the Suns would be interested in either deal. The addition of Tyreke would be interesting since he possesses play-making ability and can relentlessly attack the rim. He is also a bit more comfortable in a sixth man role. The main concern with him is his lengthy history of injuries. It’s a risk that Phoenix may not be willing to take.
As for Holiday, his injury resume isn’t light either, but he’s still very talented. He is also a player that’s very comfortable in a sixth man role and can handle it better than Knight. Additionally, Jrue doesn’t have the tendency to over-dribble like Evans so he may be a more coveted trade option.
Regardless of who they decide to move, it would be silly for the Pelicans to not inquire about acquiring Brandon Knight in exchange for Evans or Holiday. It’s a move that can potentially benefit both teams, though the Suns might not be interested in players who will hit free agency this summer.
Dec 6, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo (9) talks with forward Jimmy Butler (21) against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons won 102-91.Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
3. Chicago Bulls
After some early season success, the Chicago Bulls have experienced some struggles. Their main issue is floor spacing and the lack of it. This is why head coach Fred Hoiberg is benching Rajon Rondo late in games recently. It appears that he feels Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant are better at running the offense that he wants especially at critical points in a contest.
Due to this, Chicago is in need of a guard that’s a better fit for the scheme that Hoiberg wants to run. Brandon Knight is someone that qualifies for that need.
Even though Knight isn’t the absolutely perfect guard for the spread-out offense that Hoiberg wants, he’s a much better fit than Rondo. What makes him a better option is his ability to knock down spot-up three pointers. Combining him with Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler makes the Bulls’ offensive attack more potent. Knight would also fit in well with some bench players such as Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. It’s a definitely a trade that the Bulls should explore.
The only issue with making a potential deal for Knight is finding something that works. Trading him for Rondo straight up is a valid one, but Phoenix is most likely not interested in Rondo. Another trade that works is sending Brandon to Chicago for Taj Gibson, but it’s unknown if the Suns have any interest in Gibson. It’s also unknown if the Bulls are willing to give up some of their younger players with promise such as Jerian Grant or Doug McDermott.
Despite the fact that it may be a hard deal to pull off, it doesn’t mean that the Bulls shouldn’t try. Knight is the type of player that can help them get back into the playoffs after missing it last season.
Dec 27, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; From left(Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes (40) and guard Seth Curry (30) and guard Devin Harris (34) and guard Deron Williams (8)) sit on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
2. Dallas Mavericks
Unless you believe that Seth Curry is going to develop into his brother, the Dallas Mavericks don’t have a point guard of the future. Additionally, Deron Williams is too many years and too many injuries removed from his most productive days with the Utah Jazz. Therefore, it can’t hurt to try and make a trade for Knight since his addition represents a significant upgrade.
Although Mark Cuban claims that the Mavericks aren’t tanking yet, he may need to rethink that statement since their current record is 10-24. Their season is clearly going nowhere and there’s little to no chance that it will improve.
Dallas might as well start the rebuilding process sooner rather than later. If they acquire a player like Knight, then he can combine with Harrison Barnes and Dwight Powell to form a promising young nucleus for the future. The only thing standing in the way of this is Phoenix’s desire for any of Dallas’ players.
One valid trade according to ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine is sending Knight to Dallas in exchange for J.J. Barea and Powell. However, there would be an issue with that deal especially since the Mavericks will most likely want to hold on to Powell. Another valid trade consists of Dallas sending Matthews to the Suns for Knight. A Curry/Knight backcourt can be a potent one depending on how they jell. Additionally, the Mavericks get to keep Powell.
Although the Suns may ultimately lack interest in who Dallas has to offer for Knight, it shouldn’t stop the Mavericks from trying. He is a player that can easily expedite their inevitable rebuilding phase.
Dec 28, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts in the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
1. Sacramento Kings
Out of all the teams in the NBA, I feel that the Sacramento Kings need to trade for Brandon Knight the most. Ever since the glory days of Mike Bibby, the Kings have suffered through a lot of instability at the point guard position. They clearly undervalued Isaiah Thomas and now he’s an All-Star for the Boston Celtics.
Sacramento also made a failed attempt at using Tyreke Evans as a PG, but his natural position is on the wing as a shooting guard or small forward. Their Rajon Rondo experiment was a failure and now they’re trying to see what they can get out of Darren Collison.
What the Kings should really be doing is trying to make a trade for Knight work. Between DeMarcus Cousins and himself, it can be a nasty inside-out scoring duo. Additionally, Sacramento has been looking to trade Rudy Gay for quite some time now. Gay can be traded for Knight straight up and it would be a valid trade.
Allegedly, this trade nearly happened over the summer. A third team may need to get involved in order for this deal to be completed.
By combining the two former Kentucky standouts in Knight and Cousins, the Kings will have a good nucleus to build around. There will be more work to do, but they will at least be headed in the right direction. Instead of trying to only deal with the Suns, they should try their hardest to involve other teams and ensure that Brandon Knight is in a Kings uniform before this season concludes.