2. Jock Landale
Jock Landale had a completely different relationship with Suns fans, and he was the one role player who everybody was sad to see go this summer. His heroics in the postseason last year – when he outplayed a former first overall pick in Deandre Ayton for stretches – giving the Australian a kind of cult status on that team.
Nobody begrudged Landale getting his from the Houston Rockets, in the form of a four year, $32 million deal. The kind of money the Suns just could not come close to matching in the wake of putting their “Big 3” together and even bigger money. Despite that level of financial security and the chance to impress on a growing Rockets team, it has been a disaster for Landale.
The main reason for that is completely out of his control, and comes in the form of Alperen Sengun. The 21-year-old Turkish sensation in the running for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, and looking like a discount version of Nikola Jokic every time he steps out on the court. The Rockets are leaning on his talents hard, and he is developing at a rapid rate.
This has left Landale in the unenviable position of trying to mop up minutes where he can. Jabari Smith Jr. is a much younger bigger with higher upside who has started every game, while Tari Eason and Jae’Sean Tate are in direct competition with Landale for minutes as well. Both are players the Rockets have come to trust on this roster.
Which has meant Landale has played in nine games, and averaged a tiny 9.8 minutes of action while out there. Heart and hustle are his calling cards, but the 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 points per game are so far behind what he has shown he is capable of putting up. The Suns would have loved to have kept him, but right now a trade for the player seems the only way to change his fortunes.