PHOENIX (BVM) – The NBA season hasn’t even kicked off but the league has proven that it can keep the stoves hot at any given point. With media day kicking off this week, teams are just about done finalizing rosters as they head into training camp. For the Phoenix Suns, one name will likely be on the announced training camp roster but will not be in attendance.
Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Jae Crowder and the Suns have agreed that the forward will not participate in training camp as both sides work on a trade.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 25, 2022
With a valuable veteran hitting the trade market, almost all playoff contending teams will have open discussions over the next few weeks. With Crowder already featuring on seven different teams throughout his NBA career, it won’t be a surprise if he returns to one of his former franchises before the regular season tips off. Here’s a look at what teams make sense as potential landing spots:
5. Miami Heat
Miami found themselves deep in the rumor mill throughout the offseason, but the team’s lack of movable contracts seemed to stunt many of the major talks. With a successful season that was a Jimmy Butler 3-point miss away from an NBA Finals appearance, things seemed to work out just fine with the Heat’s lineup configuration last year. Miami has continued to field one of the deepest teams in the league, whether that be with acquisitions for players like Victor Oladipo, or developmental breakthroughs like Max Strus. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra do a good job of knowing what they need each year and how to address it.
With the signing of P.J. Tucker last season, Miami seemed to pair experience with young talent at a near perfect combination. However, as the season rolled on, the play of guys like Duncan Robinson didn’t quite reach their expected marks. As they enter the upcoming 2022 season, finding a replacement for Tucker has become the top priority. With the starting forward spot likely in the mix for guys like Robinson and Caleb Martin, adding a proven player like Crowder would be the perfect move for a team in the midst of its championship window. The price of acquiring the Suns forward creates a different question as the Heat are likely to try and add Robinson into any trade offer. If the teams can figure out a middle ground, a return back to the Heat might just be the best fit Crowder can find.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
What’s a trade rumor without a Lakers appearance? Last year was clearly not what Los Angeles expected of its LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook-led core. Too much pressure has been put on those three to do the bulk of the work while lacking major rotational pieces to mix in. With injuries continuing to plague the team over the past few seasons, having those three all out on the floor at the same time might have been the team’s biggest issue overall. Following the offseason addition of Patrick Beverley and return of Kendrick Nunn, things look like they are at least trending in the right direction at the guard spot. Obviously, Westbrook’s fit beside both James and Davis is still up in the air.
With seemingly more answers at that guard position moving forward, questions still surround the depth behind the team’s two all-stars. Assets always seem to be the issue when it comes to Lakers’ trade options but acquiring Crowder would add another proven vet to a squad that is in dire need of more help. The hope is that Thomas Bryant can man the center position and Davis can return to more of a forward role, where his body doesn’t take the same damage it would against his bigger-bodied centers. No matter where he plays, the goal is to get him to the playoffs. Crowder’s ability to play the four and give you major minutes throughout the regular season would become a major help alongside James, as they hope year two together leads to much better results.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
It’s tough to say the Bucks experienced the classic “championship hangover” last season, but the team did fall short of its repeat aspirations. Looking like a real contender entering the 2022 playoffs, the Bucks chances at another title seemed to dissipate the farther Khris Middleton’s injury return timeline got pushed down the line. Lacking the same kind of impact talent off the bench they had received in their championship season, the Bucks were unable to match up with the depth that the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors showcased during the NBA Finals
Following an offseason that didn’t feature much roster turnover, adding through trades still seems like the most likely scenario for the Bucks to bolster their upcoming roster. Bringing back Bobby Portis was instrumental, but finding secondary pieces after Grayson Allen’s struggles in the Eastern Conference Semifinals will likely become the main target either before the season, or before the league’s trade deadline. Adding a high-impact shooter like Joe Ingles was an important first step but Milwaukee is still in search of finding its next P.J. Tucker. A return back to Wisconsin for the Marquette alum would slot him perfectly into a much similar role.
2. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls weren’t one of the more active teams this offseason, opting instead to build on the continuity the team is hoping to create. After an early injury to Patrick Williams and a late injury to Lonzo Ball, the Bulls are preparing for this season to feature a more familiar lineup that will help the team take a leap forward. After watching the Boston Celtics showcase a similar mindset as they dominated throughout last year, who could blame them. With the additions of veterans like Andre Drummond and Goran Dragić, the Bulls are looking towards the playoffs as they aim to get back a healthy Ball at some point this season.
With the plan to deploy a similar roster, the Bulls didn’t seem to address some of their biggest question marks from last season. Chicago wasn’t a high volume 3-point shooting team throughout the year and with the loss of Ball, their additions don’t indicate that will be fixed as they enter 2022. Along with their lack of depth behind DeMar Derozan and Patrick Williams, finding a wing like Crowder could help them in a multitude of ways. After missing out on Danilo Gallinari earlier in the offseason, finding someone that can contribute behind the two forwards is clearly on the team’s radar.
1. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies were one of the more fun surprises of last season after taking the Western Conference by storm. With a lineup still considered one of the youngest in the league, adding impact veterans continues to be a priority for the team, even after the addition of Danny Green this offseason. With the Grizzlies lack of experience at the wing position, Memphis could be in the market to find an experienced veteran that can help on both ends of the court.
Morant’s ability to get downhill will always lead the Grizzlies towards finding second scorers, specifically ones that can shoot from three. As Ziaire Williams and Jake LaRavia are set to man the backup spots of both forward positions following the departure of Kyle Anderson, adding someone like Crowder could be a big help for a squad that is looking to take the next step at the playoff level. Crowder’s nine years of playoff experience could fit right into a group that is in search of his ability on both offense and defense. Along with the progression of both Brandon Clarke and Dillon Brooks, Crowder would seemingly make this a much deeper rotation after being tested thoroughly by the eventual NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Finding ways to play with both big and small lineups would only be accentuated by adding a player that has a proven repertoire.
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) September 25, 2022