According to Bleacher Report, the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in acquiring Aron Baynes. The Phoenix Suns should move Baynes, but not make the deal proposed.
According to Bleacher Report, the Los Angeles Clippers have interest in Phoenix Suns backup (although often starter – due to Deandre Ayton‘s suspension and subsequent injuries) Aron Baynes, one of James Jones‘ surprise acquisitions on draft day, and a key contributor to the team’s hot start.
Baynes apparently had a wealth of interest by a number of teams following Phoenix’s acquisition of him, with the presumption that the Suns might wave him immediately following the trade.
The Los Angeles Clippers were probably one of those teams who apparently had interest.
Through the team’s first ten games (in which Phoenix went 7-3), Baynes scored in double-digits in each game but the season opener, and even scored 20 or more on four occasions.
He had three or more assists six times (including a game of 6 and one of 7), and six games of at least 6 rebounds, including one with 12, averaging 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, shooting 59.0% from the field and 50.0% from beyond the arc during that stretch.
Since then – which included nine missed games – Baynes has averaged 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 47.4% from the field, and a meager 26.9% from beyond the arc.
In other words, he is who we thought he was when acquired: a nice, veteran center who a playoff team would love to have, but is a luxury a team like the Phoenix Suns (who’s deficiencies of a second star scorer and a veteran backup point guard are far more pressing) does not need.
Therefore, if the Clippers come calling, the Phoenix Suns should listen.
That said, if the trade proposed by The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie (as discussed by Eric Pincus of the Bleacher Report) was the trade proposed, just not yet.
Vecenie said that the Suns could trade Baynes for Ivica Zubac straight-up.
Um, no, thank you.
Zubac (who is 22-years-young), is a very average center (one without an outside shot), and while, okay: he averages 17.6 points, 14.0 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and shoots 58.7% from the field per-36 minutes, his four-year, $28.51 million contract which kicked in only this season, is far longer than the Suns should acquire for an expiring contract like Baynes.
If James Jones is un-willing (or unable) to make a trade for a star this season (more on that potentiality below), he is going to need all the cap space he can get to make a push for one this offseason.
The team’s desperate need for another high-frequency scorer to play alongside Devin Booker far exceeds their need for a veteran backup center, so having a long-term contract in Zubac is really a luxury Phoenix does not need at the moment.
If the team didn’t have a young center like Denadre Ayton who should be averaging over 30 minutes a game taking the necessity for an above-average backup to the bench with him, then sure, maybe either the desire to retain Baynes or the thought-process of acquiring a player like Zubac would make sense.
But Zubac’s contract (which is over $7 million a year after this season), takes up cap space that can (and needs) to be used for the solution to more pressing needs.
That said: I, for one, am 100% not against trading Aron Baynes – unlike my counterpart Adam Stratton here at Valley of the Suns.
In fact: I encourage it.
Baynes is 33-years-old, and is not a part of the future on any level.
Years from now Suns fans will look back at the Ausie’s tenure in Phoenix with fondness, but he certainly was, and never will be, a player that if not re-signed was one that got away.
Baynes, much like Tyson Chandler last year, is still a piece right now that teams making strong playoff pushes (like the Los Angeles Clippers) would love to have, and there will definitely be a market for him.
If the Clippers called today and said that they would offer Detroit’s 2021 and 2023 second round picks (which L.A. owns), I would highly consider it.
However, I would sit on it.
That kind of a trade will likely always be there as there are not many exciting backup centers who play hard-nosed defense and can stretch the floor on the market.
But if there is a bit of a bidding war, there is always the possibility that James Jones could swindle a late first round pick from a team (although, not from the Clippers as they cannot trade a first round pick until 2028 – literally).
According to that same Bleacher Report piece, one Eastern Conference general manager said that the Suns could wrangle in a third team to get something more favorable (maybe like a first round pick).
However, while that would be fine at the trade deadline, another reason to sit on Baynes for the time being and not swap him for an extended contract of a backup player, is because he can be used in a deal from that second star player this season.
While trading Baynes at some point would be advantageous for the acquisition of at least a second round picks as an asset, his expiring contract (which was $5,435,280 to start the season), could help defray some of the contractual acquisition of a higher-paid player.
His expiring contract would not be ideal if not simply to help match an incoming contract, but also to potentially help save the need to trade a player like Mikal Bridges as well.
The Phoenix Suns should be very open to trading Aron Baynes, although at the moment, James Jones should just have no interest in trading him in the deal that Sam Vecenie proposed.
That said, while using him in a deal for a star at some point is ideal, if, by the trade deadline, Jones could receive a second round pick (or higher), he should pull the trigger on that trade and not even think twice about it.