In a clear and unadulterated salary dump, the Phoenix Suns have traded T.J. Warren to the Indiana Pacers. Indiana got a good player.
Clearly a cash dump to clear cap space for a 19-63 team who only had about $9 million available to spend this offseason, the Suns lost a very good player with absolutely no off the court issues (we’re looking at you, Josh Jackson) who showed unexpected improvement in his fifth season by taking a huge leap in 3-point shooting, averaging 42.8% from beyond the arc after shooting a meager 26.5% and 22.2% the two seasons prior.
Those two qualities are very important to teams, and something that Indiana Pacers fans are going to love about him.
I have long been a huge fan of T.J. Warren’s. Even before he made the jump in 3-point percentage, his game excited me tremendously. A hard-worker and very efficient scorer, his ability to put the ball in the basket almost at will was a quality that until Devin Booker last season the Phoenix Suns had not had in several years.
However, I was very specific about my impression of Warren on the Suns.
I never believed that he should have been the starting small forward.
In fact, I regularly compared him to Cedric Ceballos, another highly-efficient scorer who drove to the basket at will and while he could be counted on getting a bucket when it was most needed, on a good basketball team, he anchored a second unit that helped stretch leads beyond reach with the starters resting, or helped pull his team out of a deficit when the starters were not on their game.
Of course, Ceballos’ best scoring seasons of his career came when he was a starter for the Los Angeles Lakers where he was their primary scoring option, a similar pattern that Warren would certainly follow if he were placed in a similar situation.
Instead Warren will be joining an already very good Pacers team who needed a player of Warren’s scoring ability to compliment star Victor Oladipo and further pull together an already deep team now with the ability to make a surprise leap in the Eastern Conference.
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*Do not forget: Oladipo missed the final 35 regular season games as well as the first round of the playoffs following a January ruptured quad tendon in his right knee. Indiana was 25-11 in games Oladipo played in, but 23-23 (during the regular season) when he was out, and 0-4 in their first round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
The Pacers are already very good, and if Kawhi Leonard moves to the Western Conference, the Pacers might be the team who fills the void left by the then depleted Toronto Raptors.
For the Phoenix Suns, by trading both Warren and the 32nd overall pick, they saved over $10 million dollars, which when adding to the already $9 million under the cap is the first step towards becoming a legitimate player in July’s free agency frenzy.
Should James Jones be able to move Josh Jackson without picking up any contracts in return, they’ll be in the mid-$20 millions.
If they find a way to move Tyler Johnson, should they waive and stretch him, or should he opt-out of his final player option (which would be SHOCKING to say the least), the Phoenix Suns will have about $40 million to spend.
The Indiana Pacers acquired a good player in T.J. Warren from the Phoenix Suns. He will be missed. However, the cap space made in his trade, might be the first step in a big and exciting free agency offseason.