James Jones’ 3 best trades as Phoenix Suns general manager

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns trade pick six (Jarrett Culver) for Dario Saric and pick 11 (Cameron Johnson)

This one goes down as James Jones’ best trade as general manager, simply for the criticism he faced in the immediate aftermath of drafting Cameron Johnson. Phoenix initially held the sixth pick in the 2019 draft, before dealing it to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Dario Saric and the 11th pick.

The Timberwolves drafted Jarrett Culver at six before the Suns decision to select Johnson was met with a chorus of questions. These included from highly-credentialed ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony –

"“The Suns made the first truly shocking move of the night, by reaching significantly for the oldest player in the draft in Cameron Johnson. Johnson was not one of the 24 players invited to sit in the NBA Draft Green Room, and there was some talk that he may fall to the 2nd round”, Givony wrote."

Looking back three seasons later and this is nothing short a home run trade for the Suns. Johnson finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season, shooting 42.5% from three in the process.

On the other hand, Culver has been a major disappointment and is now in danger of being out of the league entirely. He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves last offseason, playing just 9.1 minutes per game with the team in 2021-22. He remains a free agent ahead of this season.

Even if the Suns weren’t interested in Culver had they kept the sixth pick, the following selections wouldn’t have offered a whole lot better. Coby White, Jaxson Hayes, Rui Hachimura and Cam Reddish – all players who you’d argue Johnson now has greater value than.

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Given the Suns lack of draft investment, perhaps there may have been a little bit of luck involved. Regardless, it’s proved a significant move that they’ll hope will continue to pay dividends for another five plus years.