The Phoenix Suns are on the cusp of getting two of their top three players back, with both Devin Booker and Bradley Beal nearing a return from injury. When they hit the court alongside Kevin Durant, the Suns are going to become a tricky proposition for opponents offensively.
Even when fully healthy though, the Suns still have a lack of depth at the point guard position. Booker assumes the role currently, with Jordan Goodwin and even Saben Lee capable of jumping in from time-to-time. Beal could also become more of a playmaker when he finally does make his regular season debut.
Looking further afield though, and could Jaden Ivey of the Detroit Pistons be the kind of young guard that the Phoenix Suns could steal?
From December 15th, the Suns will be able to trade players who they signed in the summer. This list includes the likes of Bol Bol or Chimezie Metu – who when paired with Nassir Little who came over in the Jusuf Nurkic trade late in the offseason – make around $8 million this year.
That’s a nice little number to package together to try and get a player to fill out the Suns’ second unit, but why would the Pistons simply offer up a second year player in Ivey? To be clear on that before proceeding, if the Pistons ever did decide to ditch him early in his career, the Suns would never have the best package available in a trade.
But it is also true that Ivey, despite a nice rookie season in which he averaged an impressive 16.3 points and 5.2 assists, is being buried by former Suns head coach and current Pistons lead man, Monty Williams. He wouldn’t exactly be rushing to help his former employers out either, but it wouldn’t be solely his call.
Ivey started 73 out of 74 games played in his rookie campaign, playing 31.1 minutes per night. Cade Cunningham might be back from injury and in place as the clear leading man for the Pistons right now, but that alone does not explain Ivey’s failure to start a game so far, with his minutes dropping hugely to 20.7 each night.
The Pistons seem to be going with rookie Ausar Thompson (understandable) and Killian Hayes (less so) as the starters over Ivey right now, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon either. The Pistons are onto something with what they’ve got, and while Ivey can help, he is being featured less and less and the team haven’t even played 10 games yet.
If the Suns picked up the phone, they could offer up a player in Little who could act as a link between Cunningham and their glut of big men. Bol is technically a center – something the Pistons do not need – but he is not a big in the traditional sense in that he doesn’t defend and works better out on the perimeter.
If anything, having a defensive-minded five like Jalen Duren or Isaiah Stewart next to Bol could hide how bad he is on that end, and let him put up the 9.1 points he managed for the Orlando Magic last season, while playing roughly the same amount of minutes as Ivey currently is for the Pistons.
With only two games played so far at an average of 3.5 minutes, it is clear the Suns don’t think they can contend if Bol plays major minutes. The time to use him is now, not the postseason, and he’s gotten no game time even with Booker, Beal and Damion Lee all currently out injured.
Little is only 23-years-old, and the Pistons get something back for a player that it already does not look like they’ll want to pay big bucks to in the future. Cunningham is clearly the face of the franchise, and Duren and Thompson look like a nice duo around his talents.
This leaves Ivey as the odd man out, and a player the Suns could maybe pay in the future. Ivey is up for extension in 2026, he will become a restricted free agent that summer, the same time that both Durant and Nurkic come off the books. Even if that is thinking too far into the future, the possibility of adding a young and cheap player like Ivey to be a backup is an enticing one.
He’s got a much higher ceiling than both Goodwin and Lee, and although he’s sometimes thought of as a two-guard, he could be shaped into the backup point guard by the Suns if they add him early. They wouldn’t be favorites to land him if it became known he was available, but the Pistons look like they’re canning him in year two. Why not get in there early and see what can happen?