The Phoenix Suns are rumored to be in trade talks with the Detroit Pistons surrounding a deal that would send Luke Kennard to the Valley for a first-round draft pick.
During the week of the trade deadline, everyone waits calmly (or not-so-calmly) for a Woj bomb to be dropped on their team. On Monday night, after their embarrassing loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the Phoenix Suns got their first Woj bomb.
It was a potential trade that would send Luke Kennard to the Phoenix Suns for a first-round draft pick.
Wait, Luke Kennard? That left-handed Dukie that got drafted too high because Coach K mentored him?
Yes, that Luke Kennard.
To be fair, Kennard is having a career year. Or should I say, was having a career year before a knee injury has kept him out the last 22 games. He has averaged 15.8 points per game during the 28 games he played this season to go along with 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds, all career-highs in this, his third year in the league.
His timetable to return is shortly after the All-Star break and assuming he comes back at full strength, that isn’t likely to factor too much into the deal.
Luke Kennard is…well, he’s fine. I guess. He is a 6’5″ shooting guard that plays like he was built for the 1990s. He’s not going to wow you with athleticism or speed or personality, but he’s going to shoot around 40% from behind the arc and make good quality shot-fakes when appropriate to open up fundamental drives to the rim.
Don’t get me wrong, 15.8 points per game is definitely respectable, but it would have been nice if the sample size was larger.
Kennard is still on his rookie contract for another year, so if he works out, the Suns could keep him relatively on-the-cheap through 2021.
Per Woj’s ESPN article, the Phoenix Suns’ plan would be to use Kennard as the 6th man to come off the bench, play around 30 minutes, and provide some much-needed point production in the Suns’ second unit. That role is precisely what Suns fans have been clamoring for, but is Luke Kennard the player they want to fill that void? If so, he worth a first-round pick?
If it is protected, maybe. The problem is, if you give up this first-rounder, it takes away trade power for someone more impactful.
The 2020 draft is shaping up to be historically weak. No team is good in college basketball this year and there isn’t anyone that stands out as a potential day-one star. With this in mind, I very much support the Suns using their 2020 draft pick as a bargaining chip, but, I mean…Luke Kennard?
Kennard went 12th overall in the 2017 draft, too high in the opinion of this then-college basketball junkie who watched way too many Duke games that season. Woj reminds us Suns vice president of basketball operations Jeff Bower was part of a Detroit front office that drafted Kennard that year.
Wait, that Jeff Bower? The same one who played a part in the Suns reaching for Cameron Johnson at the 11th pick partly because he had a recruiting connection to him from his days at Marist and a good relationship with his father?
That, well…it gives me pause. Nothing against Johnson (or Kennard for that matter), but hopefully the Phoenix Suns are looking more broadly than just players that Jeff Bower is friendly with.
If this trade goes through (Kennard for a first-round draft pick), it will fill a need (bench scoring) while not coming at a huge price (the 2020 draft is kind of trash), but between the Jeff Bower connection, Kennard’s knee injury, and the fact that a first-round pick is, on the surface, still valuable, it feels a little unsatisfying.
Trade talks are expected to resume Tuesday before the Phoenix Suns visit Detroit Pistons for a game on Wednesday. Keep your eyes out for another Woj bomb.