Phoenix Suns: Regrading the Questionable Josh Jackson Trade

Phoenix Suns, Josh Jackson (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Josh Jackson (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Selected by the Phoenix Suns with the fourth overall pick during the 2017 NBA Draft, Josh Jackson once looked destined for an illustrious basketball career—certain to make an immediate impact on the league. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Unable to develop a 3-point shot and chemistry with his team, the former Jayhawk’s stock started to shrink during his sophomore season, prompting the Suns to move him sooner rather than later.

Striking a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2019 offseason, the Suns exchanged Jackson, DeAnthony Melton, and two second-rounders for Jevon Carter and Kyle Korver. Phoenix reached a buyout agreement with Korver shortly after processing the swap, but held onto Carter all the way through this past season.

Since this trade went down, lots has changed for both the Suns and everyone attached to the transaction—of course including Jackson. With all these changes considered now two years removed, the deal needs a regrade.

Regrading the Josh Jackson trade for the Phoenix Suns

As this trade’s central piece, you need to start with Jackson when mulling over the exchange. After his rookie deal expired, he signed a two year contract with the Detroit Pistons worth roughly $9 million dollars. While playing under the Motor City lights last year, Jackson averaged 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.

Those numbers are solid, but Jackson also turned the ball over 2.3 times per game and shot 30.0 percent from range…clearly still unable to fix the exact issues which caused the Suns to trade him in the first place.

At only 24-years-old, Jackson might one day develop into a solid NBA player. However, since he still looks like the same guy who Phoenix wanted to move on from, rather than a star that just needed some extra time to develop, it appears that the Suns did not miss out on anything with Jackson. In no way were they manipulated or fleeced by the Grizzlies.

Phoenix did gain excessive cap space though with Jackson’s hefty rookie deal off their hands, which they pooled together to sign Ricky Rubio and take on Dario Saric’s contract. Saric’s injury is a bummer, but he still remains an important piece on this team, ready to contribute or work as a valued trade asset once he recovers.

As the more important addition though, Rubio operated as a crucial piece within the deal that landed the Suns Chris Paul, and more or less got them to the NBA Finals. That value undoubtedly stands on its own legs.

Moving onto Melton though, he actually re-signed with the Grizzlies under a four year, $34 million dollar contract. Working off the bench last season, he average 9.1 points and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 41.2 percent from deep.

Melton put out some solid production especially for a combo-guard playing second fiddle to Ja Morant. But with this trade the Suns also acquired Carter, who the Suns just utilized to help trade for Landry Shamet. As the true backup shooting guard which the Suns lacked all last year, Shamet poises to assist Phoenix tremendously going forward, which makes the Melton subtraction feel well worth its value.

When you address this trade entirely, it honestly looked idiotic for the Suns at its time. Although the Melton for Carter swap seemed even, trading a young piece to earn cap space, and then spending said cap space on veterans felt incredibly contradictory to the team’s direction as a rebuilding franchise.

But another year down the line, you see that one of those signed veterans helped the Suns add Paul, and another turn into Shamet by extension. Those both remain clear cut wins for Phoenix, allowing this deal to age like fine wine.

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So unless Jackson blooms ridiculously late and turns into the star we all expected him to, the Suns earn a solid regrade on this deal.

Final Grade: B+