Between Kyrie and Jackson, the Suns won that non-trade

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 2: Kyrie Irving
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 2: Kyrie Irving /

With Kyrie Irving down for the rest of the season and playoffs with another knee injury, it looks like the Phoenix Suns won that non-trade.

This past offseason, the rumors swirling around the Phoenix Suns’ reported interest in acquiring Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving were a non-stop topic that interested everyone in the Valley of the Suns.

Should the Suns trade for Kyrie or not?

Everyone had an opinion – and nobody had the wrong one. The question though, regardless of what would eventually happen, placed a target on both Kyrie Irving and whoever the Suns would select with the fourth overall selection (the piece that Cleveland reportedly wanted to consummate the deal who ended up being Josh Jackson), and who would eventually be better for Phoenix in the long-term.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

We now know that Kyrie Irving is down again with his bad knee and will not only miss the last week or so of the season and the entire playoffs, but also potentially some – if not all – of training camp as well.

Josh Jackson, on the other hand, has not only remained healthy throughout this season, but over the second half of the year has proven to be one of the top rookies in the NBA, and may have earned himself a position on the All-Rookie team based on his post-January statistics alone.

The two questions then remains as they always would: who won the non-trade between the Suns and Cavs, and would would you rather on the Phoenix Suns moving forward, Kyrie Irving or Josh Jackson?

Irving is only 26 and is a former All-NBA member, earning a spot on the All-NBA First team in 2014-15, LeBron James‘ first season back in Cleveland. He has an NBA title, coming the following season, and is arguably a top-5 point guard in the NBA. Averaging 24.4p this season and 5.1a, he absolutely would have been the best point guard the Suns have had since Steve Nash – I’d like to point out though that one of the biggest complaints that Suns fans had with Eric Bledsoe was his scoring first mentality and the rarity in which he would record double-digit assist totals. This season Irving has recorded double-digit assists just once, on opening night, and has reached 9 just once all year as well.

Don’t get me wrong, Irving would have made the Suns a better team, but can one say with all assuredness that without Josh Jackson and no other major moves this past offseason that Booker and Irving would have been enough of a duo to propel Phoenix anywhere near the playoffs this season?


On the other hand, Jackson is only 20-years-old, and after a slow start, again may yet be an All-Rookie winner averaging 17.0p, 5.4r, 2.0a, 1.1s, and shooting 44.6% from beyond the arc. Taking over the lead scoring role with Devin Booker‘s hand injury leaving him out of games since March 17, Jackson is averaging 22.7p, 5.2r, 3.3a, 2.0s, while shooting 45.9% from the field – all up from his second-half-of-the-season averages.

Many have begun to speculate the maximum of what Jackson can become, from a Shawn Marion-type player with at least a couple of All-Star Selections on his resume over the course of his career, to a player of Clyde Drexler‘s ilk, a perennial All-Star with regular All-NBA selections.

Certainly that is all speculation at this point, but odds are in both his and the franchise’s favor that the second half of his rookie year is no fluke and will only be built upon beginning next season.

There is also another aspect to the debate that cannot be overlooked: because the Phoenix Suns were so bad this season without Kyrie Irving, they have a legitimate shot at the first overall selection this summer, and the opportunity to select a potential generational center in University of Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton.

One cannot believe that Phoenix, with Kyrie Irving, would have been this bad, likely leaving them out of the #DoItForDeandre, #LoseForLuka, and #BeBadForBagley sweepstakes. Will any one of those players be as good as Kyrie in the longrun?

Let’s be honest here: who knows. However, the hype surrounding those three, specifically DeAndre Ayton, certainly makes the speculation of what they could bring to the Suns potentially worth that risk.

Next: Should they stay or should they go? - Guards Edition

There cannot officially be a ruling on the Jackson/Irving non-trade for at least another year when we see how Kyrie’s knee holds up, what his contract re-extension would be like, if Jackson takes that next step forward in his development, and if the Suns are able to land Ayton in the draft. But I’ll offer this opinion on the matter: Irving’s knee must be worrisome to the Boston Celtics or any team he may have happened to be traded to, and he is on the verge of receiving a max contract extension.

If his knee doesn’t hold up – or if the Suns were actually on the verge of making the playoffs this season only to lose Irving for nearly the entire month of March potentially dipping out of the playoff picture, would have been tremendously disheartening – especially for a team that would have had a lot of hype accompanying it heading into the season after seven non-playoff seasons.

Obviously all anyone can do at this point is speculate, so let’s do just that: did the Phoenix Suns win the non-trade for Kyrie Irving with the Cleveland Cavaliers?