While they went 64-18 in the 2021-22 season and set a new franchise record for wins in a single season, the Phoenix Suns seem very open to the idea of moving parts of their championship roster to continue improving.
On Monday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst stated that the Suns are ready to leave veteran Jae Crowder and that they are actively in trade negotiations.
Crowder, 32, has started in 109 of the 127 regular-season games he’s played with the Suns over the past two seasons and has been a key part of their championship esce roster.
The exact reason that either Crowder wants to be traded and/or the Suns want to walk away from him isn’t known at this time, but the Suns are willing to take steps and spend more money on a possible championship win.
Crowder seems the likeliest candidate for a move in the last year of his contract, especially as Windhorst reported the Suns are also actively negotiating a contract extension with forward Cameron Johnson.
With Jae Crowder on the preseason trading block, multiple playoff caliber or playoff-hopeful teams could be asking the veteran for more experience on the wing.
Here are three teams that could trade for the veteran over the next few weeks.
After their run to the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics enter the 2022-23 season as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. They’ve added some key notable talents in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari this off-season, but Gallinari will be sidelined indefinitely after tearing a cruciate ligament while playing for the Italy national team this summer.
With Gallinari out, the Celtics are suddenly thin in both front positions, so targeting Jae Crowder makes a lot of sense. Not to mention, he played for the Celtics from 2014-17 and reached the Eastern Conference Finals with Boston in 2017.
Depth proved to be the Celtics’ ultimate downfall last season, and if they could add a veteran player like Crowder, who was previously in the NBA Finals, they’d be in an even better position than they currently are.
The question here, however, is what exactly would the Celtics have to give up in order to acquire Crowder?
Boston has made it clear that they’re also not afraid to spend money to fight for a championship, so increasing their tax bill wouldn’t be a problem. However, should the Celtics be on the receiving end of a Jae Crowder trade, they would likely be at least one of two other teams involved with the Suns, meaning someone like Derrick White, Grant Williams or Payton Pritchard would likely be on the end would have to move with a future second-round pick.
However, in terms of production and depth, Crowder is exactly the kind of player the Celtics need and lacked in the NBA Finals.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are a long way from being a playoff team, so Jae Crowder probably wouldn’t be open to a trade here.
However, the Knicks believe internally that they have what it takes to make the playoffs and be competitive, which is why a defensive-minded veteran in the open market could be someone who could intrigue them.
A trade between the Knicks and Suns involving Crowder could work financially, especially since Cam Reddish is a player who may have had enough of New York. The Knciks traded for Reddish last season and after barely using him the young wing could open a change of scenery.
As for the Suns, they’ll likely try to move Crowder to win back another “win-now” talent like Utah Jazz’s Bojan Bogdanovic, but Cam Reddish is only 23 and has already shown some light in his two -Way potential early in his career.
Whether in Phoenix or elsewhere, Reddish can now contribute and be a key goalscoring talent to come off the bench. Reddish is making $5.9 million in the final year of his contract and is eligible to be moved for Crowder’s salary, making this trade a financially sound one.
However, it’s unlikely the Suns would view the move as a trade that would bring them more value in terms of a championship fight.
If there’s one team high on Jae Crowder’s wish list of teams he’d like to be traded with, it would be the Miami Heat.
No one in the league would be shocked if Crowder was dealt to the Heat for two reasons. First, Pat Riley is always looking for ways to improve his team’s championship prospects, and second, Crowder has really enjoyed his time with the Heat in 2020.
Crowder reached the NBA Finals with them in the NBA bubble and already has chemistry and relationships with a large majority of the Heat’s roster and is exactly the kind of player they need as PJ Tucker joins the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason goes.
The Heat have a gap to fill at the power forward position, and right now they don’t have anyone on their roster who could easily fill that position. Jimmy Butler or Caleb Martin could be asked to slide over from the small forward position, but then the Heat will give up size and strength defensively.
Adding a true power forward before the start of the new season makes a lot of sense for the Heat, and with Crowder being available, bringing him back makes the most sense for them.
Given that they have virtually no cap space and are already paying taxes for the roster they have, the Heat might have a hard time finding a way to acquire Crowder. Assuming they don’t trade Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, or Max Strus, Miami would likely need to part ways with either Duncan Robinson and/or rookie Nikola Jovic for this trade to work from a financial standpoint.
Robinson was rumored to be available in Miami so it’s possible they could try to move the sniper for Jae Crowder.