The vast majority of Phoenix Suns fans would allow T.J. Warren to be traded in a heartbeat if it meant that Josh Jackson stayed on the roster. But what if the Suns believe that T.J. Warren actually makes trading Josh Jackson acceptable?
The idea of trading Josh Jackson is already a repulsive notion for the vast majority of Phoenix Suns fans, and rightfully so. The second half of Jackson’s rookie season essentially put the league on notice that his athleticism in unsurpassed and his thirst for competition is unquenchable.
What is his ceiling? A this point, who knows. Some have said that it’s that of a good NBA player, but not great. While others believe that some day he will be a regular All-Star for many years to come with whispers of his name and others, such as Clyde Drexler, spoken in hushed tones.
However, while his combination of youth and tremendous skills is very exciting to think about having on the roster paired up with Devin Booker for many years to come, the fact that he and T.J. Warren, are on the roster, is somewhat redundant. They are both starting caliber small forwards in the NBA and thus, if Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough can make a trade that includes either one of the two to improve upon another position, then the team as a whole is better off.
Most Suns fans say “well then, trade T.J. Warren.” However, many recognize that Warren is not nearly the valuable trade piece that most fans wish him to be.
Yes, he is a Cedric Ceballos-type point-a-minute scorer. But in the modern NBA, he is without a decent 3-point shot nor is he a lockdown defender. Scoring from 15 feet in with ease is something that most players can do, and not necessarily that neat of a trick.
That being said, Josh Jackson is younger, on a better contract (Warren’s extension kicks in this year and will pay him $11.75M in 2018-19), is far more athletic, projects to be a lockdown defender, and all-in-all appears to be a better all-around player.
Jackson is also so well thought of already that he has followed in Devin Booker’s shoes and was the Suns’ representative in the draft lottery in May, the singular most important offseason even in franchise history as is gave Phoenix the number one pick in the draft for the first time in 50 years.
However, if the Phoenix Suns want to attempt to make a trade back into the top-5 of the draft after selecting first overall, (or even a trade for a star player already in the league), most teams (if not all teams) will be asking for Jackson rather than Warren in the return package.
Depending on the player, could this be something that the Suns would consider?
To be fair, if the Suns do trade Jackson, and they receive a player in return that too projects to be a star, it is not like they are short-changing themselves.
T.J. Warren is a good player and a starter on most teams in the league, including the Phoenix Suns when Josh Jackson isn’t on the roster. Phoenix would probably be trading for a star, so adding Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, plus this third player (whether it is Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III, or anyone else), not only do they have that young core trio, but then the slightly older, veteran Warren in the starting lineup to run alongside reaping their athletic benefits.
Warren too averaged just .4 off of 20 points per game while shooting at 50% from the field for the fourth consecutive season. His 3-point shooting percentage was so bad it’s not worth discussing, but if he can just improve it to a moderate rate of slightly above 30%, then he will be a much more complete offensive player, one who will probably average over 20 points a game.
Add to the roster either stretch-four Luka Doncic or power forward Marvin Bagley III (and I use those names merely as examples, on might even believe that trading Jackson in a package for Michael Porter Jr., for instance, might also be acceptable), and the starting lineup is still very well put together.
While many Suns fans have imagined a starting lineup with two top picks in this draft plus Josh Jackson, if Phoenix is going to make a trade for a second top pick, Josh Jackson just might have to be in that trade.
The question that McDonough has hopefully answered in his mind already is: if he is angling at all to get back into the front of the lottery, is he willing to part with Jackson for anyone at the top of the draft?