Looking at Phoenix Suns T.J. Warren trade after free agency

After a crazy offseason with tons of turnover around the league, the Phoenix Suns’ trade of T.J. Warren was not as unique as initial opinions suggested.

This summer, more than ever, cap space has become one of if not the most sought after asset for a team to obtain – not just the Phoenix Suns.

There were multiple moves made by teams in straight giveaways of players to clear space. Even at smaller numbers the prices were as high as ever to adjust a team’s situation to create some cap relief.

Which is why some moves by James Jones and the Phoenix Suns created so many questions.

The Suns took a lot of heat following the T.J. Warren trade, and just based on how it looks at face value, probably rightfully so.

However, Warren to the Pacers took place before many of the other cost-cutting trades around the league so it’s perception at the time was different based on the trade itself appearing to be a one-off.

In the end, it took the 32nd overall pick to get off of the last 3 years and 35 million of T.J. Warren’s contract.

Yet as cheap or illogical as that move seemed initially, comparing that cost to other trades of a similar ilk makes it appear much more manageable and intuitive.

The Suns’ reasons for making that trade and their use of the extra cap space it created are still up for debate. However, based on the other moves made around the league in the weeks following the move, it is nowhere near as outrageous as it appeared to be as it happened.

The best trade to compare Warren’s to is that of Maurice Harkless from the Heat to the Clippers.

To clear cap space to acquire Jimmy Butler the Heat had to attach a protected 2023 1st round pick to get off of Harkless’ 11 million dollar expiring contract.

Comparing just draft assets, a protected future first round pick for a team like the Heat that becomes unprotected if not moved is far and away more valuable than the 32nd pick in a weak draft.

The debate comes down to how important the extra two years of Warren’s contract are and what you think of Warren as a player.

In a vacuum, Warren is the better player. The problem is his fit on a lot of teams is questionable because of his poor defense and limited passing.

At the same time, Harkless is not as strong offensively but is still not a zero and provides good defense across multiple positions.

Even though Warren is the better player, the two extra years on his contract hurt his trade value as well as it put the Pacers in the same situation as Phoenix the next two summers with his contract and basketball limitations now under their control.

Another player close in value to Warren is Andre Iguodala who’s 17 million expiring contract was also moved along with a lightly protected 2024 first round pick.

Even with the higher salary to take on with Igoudala, it still cost a first round pick even with his contract only on the books for one more year.

It could therefore be argued that these teams had less leverage than the Suns when making these trades, which is true, however if the Suns had waited there is no guarantee that they gain leverage or a greater market for Warren’s contract.

With a shifting market this summer that put a high price on teams looking to cut salary and a strong desire to maintain future flexibility coupled with a possible overvaluing of T.J. makes the Suns trade of Warren to the Pacers appear to not look as bad as initially thought.

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If you have a problem with the Suns’ plan, it should come down to his contract in the first place (which was given to him by Ryan McDonough and not James Jones) or how the cap space was used in the first place. At the draft, the market presented itself for Warren, and the Phoenix Suns made the best move they could make at the time.

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