With a 12-10 record and the seventh spot in the Western Conference right now, the Phoenix Suns should be constantly on the lookout for a trade to improve their roster. Realistic ones are hard to come by, although if there is one thing we know about this front office, it is that they will do whatever they can in order to improve this group.
Starting on December 15th, the Suns will be able to trade players who they signed to deals this summer, such as Yuta Watanabe and Bol Bol, to name a few. Not that they will be in any hurry to move many of these players. Most are on short-term deals and quite a few of them have worked out exactly how the Suns hoped that they would.
But in order to get better they will have to work around the fringes of this roster, and they could do just that while adding Davion Mitchell of the Sacramento Kings in the process.
Mitchell is a 25-year-old point guard, and if you don't know anything about how he plays, he generally comes off the bench and provides a whole lot of energy on the defensive end. In 170 regular season games played for the Kings, he has only started on 30 occasions.
The Kings have improved in that time, yet Mitchell's playing time has gone from 27.7 minutes in his rookie season (as well as 19 starts in 74 games), to only 15.9 points in 15 games played for the Kings this season (three starts). Does that give us an indicator that - as Mitchell's playing time has dwindled - the Kings have gotten better?
That's not totally fair to say, as the Kings have watched as De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis have gotten pair as a duo. Culminating in returning to the playoffs for the first time in a generation last season. Mitchell did appear in all seven games the Kings played against the Golden State Warriors, and played 20 minutes per contest.
Clearly then the Kings still have some degree of trust in Mitchell, he is just becoming increasingly squeezed out in Sacramento. Keegan Murray is a player with higher upside who is a tremendous shooter, while Kevin Huerter is a more established player. He is also a better offensive option, while Malik Monk off the bench is one of the most fun players in the league.
The Kings had an offensive rating of 118.6 last season - which was not only the best mark in the entire NBA - it was the highest mark in league history. So far this season they've come back to earth (12th, 114.5), but they are still more reliant on their offensive prowess, than they are their defensive abilities as a group (20th, 114.8).
In theory then Mitchell has a part to play with this group, but as long as head coach Mike Brown is in charge there, he is likely to favor players who can help on the offensive end more than those who clamp down on the other end. Puzzlingly, the Kings have a defensive rating of 116.1 when Mitchell is on the court, which is way up on the impressive 111.8 of the year before.
Offensively it has been a disaster, with the team having an offensive rating of 99.4 when Mitchell has been out there. Why then would the Suns be interested in a player who is limited offensively, and who on the other end has failed to hit the high of the first two seasons of his career in the league? The answer is simple - he is a low-risk, high-reward kind of player.
Mitchell is making roughly $5 million this season, and could be gotten in a trade straight up for Nassir Little. Although that may not be the right move to make, as Little has had some moments for the Suns this season. Returning to those aforementioned players who can be moved after December 15th though, and perhaps Bol and another player can be put together for Mitchell?
The Kings are trying to be competitive now, and clearly don't think Mitchell can help. They're fazing him out slowly, and could be tempted by a reclamation project like Bol - plus perhaps a veteran like Eric Gordon - to see what they can get out of them. For the Suns, they get a rotation player for their backcourt, and one who could play some minutes if Devin Booker is out injured.
With long-term trade target T.J. McConnell now potentially too expensive for the Suns to get involved in trading for, Mitchell represents a cheaper and younger alternative to potentially chase. The Suns played 12 players in Friday's loss to the Kings in search of some juice, while Mitchell saw the court for one minute of that game. This is a move that could suit both teams moving forward.