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Buzz has permeated NBA circles over the past week as the Phoenix Suns came close to finding a deal for veteran Jae Crowder, who has been working away from the team all season, and keeping fit for a final deal.
The Suns have many suitors, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, and Golden State Warriors. One executive told B/R that the end result could be a multi-team trade with three, four, or even five NBA franchises.
Mark Stein @TheSteinLine
There has been some credible buzz this week that the Suns have made progress in finding a commercial solution to the Jae Crowder saga. Crowder’s cryptic IG story seems to deal with this idea…
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The Bucks are believed to be fielding Grayson Allen, and the Hawks are shopping Bogdan Bogdanovich, Justin Holiday, and/or John Collins. None of it seems to appeal to the Suns right away.
The Houston Rockets could be the key to a Crowder deal (along with Dario Daric), with Kenyon Martin Jr. and Eric Gordon potential returns to Phoenix. The Rockets will want real value back, whether it be quality young prospects and/or draft considerations.
It’s hard to tie the business to the Warriors, given their previous refusal to talk about trading players like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody. last year, Tim Kawakami Of The Athletic, the Warriors wrote, “They think Wiseman is going to be a star.”
But Golden State (8-10) looked weak in the West, just a year after winning the title. Is there a strong enough return that could upset some of the team’s best prospects and help return the franchise to the top of the conference?
Uncharacteristically lacking defense
In their pursuit of the title, the Warriors had Second best defensive rating (106.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) over the course of the regular season behind the NBA Finals runner-up Boston Celtics (106.2).
This season, the Warriors have taken a huge step back 27th With a defensive rating of 114.1.
“The Warriors left the bench in free agency hurt,” said a Western Conference executive, noting that the team had not adequately replaced Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. “and Kuminga.”
While Crowder is only 6’6″, he plays larger than his height. He has built a reputation as a versatile and versatile defender who can hold his own against some of the league’s toughest wingers like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
He may be the closest replacement available to what the Warriors have lost to Payton and Porter, but will the team be willing to give up multiple youth prospects to Crowder? It may not be done without filling an additional gap in the list.
Warriors need volume
Kevon Looney is a starring role player, but he and Draymond Green seem to be a league size bigger. The Warriors were seventh in the league a year ago but have fallen to 25th overall. Golden State needs a little extra help up front, and Wiseman doesn’t seem ready to fill that gap.
Can the team take the “win now” route while simultaneously developing the stars of tomorrow?
In addition to adding a versatile defensive winger in Crowder, opposing executives believe the Warriors aspire to extra size in a player like Jakob Poeltl from the San Antonio Spurs or Myles Turner from the Indiana Pacers.
The Spurs can’t give Poeltl a proper extension (limited to just under $13 million) and face losing him as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Unlike Turner, Poeltl may be more readily available because San Antonio (6-12) is focused on rebuilding.
The Pacers (10-6) are reluctant to dismantle the Core after a solid start to the season. Many teams have long sought out Turner, Including the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. But Pacers umpire Herb Simon is known in the league to find Tanks distasteful, and is always lobbying for his front office to make a credible run into the playoffs.
Indiana may not be so readily willing to reverse course; Poeltl’s apparent availability may push him to the top of the roster of warriors. To get Poeltl and Crowder, the Golden State will need to send in approximately $16 million in salary.
Recently signed free agents cannot be included in any trades until December 15th (Donte DiVincenzo, JaMychal Green), December 26th (Andre Iguodala) or January 15th (Looney). Andrew Wiggins, who recently signed an extension, can’t handle it this season. But Jordan Paul, who has a rookie-wide extension, qualifies for the trade (although the math is complex, and warriors aren’t likely to consume it).
Leaving the team’s three superstars out of the equation (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green), leaving Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins and the top three Warriors prospects in Wiseman, Cumminga and Moody.
It will be necessary to include Wiseman to get the numbers working before December 15th. In addition, the warriors must include Kuminga and at least one of the three remaining possibilities – or the team can keep Kuminga and send Moody along with Baldwin and Rollins.
For example, the Spurs could get Wiseman and Rollins, while the Rockets could get Cumminga, Charic (from Phoenix) and a $4.6 million trade exception. Or Kuminga stays with the Warriors, which means Moody and Baldwin (or Rollins) end up in Houston and Wiseman and Rollins (or Baldwin) end up in San Antonio.
It would be a huge concession to give away two of their top three prospects to the Warriors; One property will not run lightly. Wiseman was the No. 2 overall pick in 2020, and both Kuminga (No. 7) and Moody (No. 14) were lottery picks in 2021.
Kuminga and Moody got more play last year after the Warriors started 18-2, and Wiseman got plenty of play as a starter when expectations for the team were lower because Thompson was out for the season. But now, after the championship and slow start to the 2022-23 campaign, rival executives are wondering how long the franchise can hold out at the risk of letting the Curry era end prematurely.
Crowder, 32, may not have as many years ahead of him as the team’s expectations, but he’s a profitable piece now. While the Suns may not like the idea of sending Crowder to a conference rival, it may not be enough of a hurdle if the team can add both Gordon and Martin in return.
It’s Poeltl (27) that might move the Warriors’ needle to allow some future ambitions to focus seriously on repetition. Crowder may not have Wiseman’s “star” strength, but in reality, Wiseman may not have either.
And Poeltl can give the Warriors a vital piece in the middle, not just for years to come but now when the team needs it most.
Email Eric Pincus at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @employee.