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#pounditSunday, February 25, 2024

Suns looking to trade longtime player?

Mat Ishbia smiling

Feb 8, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia speaks to the media at an introductory press conference at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yet another member of the Phoenix Suns 2021 NBA Finals team could soon be playing elsewhere.

Yahoo! Sports’ Jake Fischer reported this week that the Suns are exploring trade scenarios with backup point guard Cameron Payne. Fischer notes that Indiana Pacers guard TJ McConnell is a player on Phoenix’s radar as part of the potential return.

The former lottery pick Payne, 28, has been with the Suns for the last four seasons. That makes him their third-longest-tenured player (behind Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton). While Payne doesn’t provide a lot on defense, he has burst and shooting range, averaging 10.6 points and 4.6 assists per game in the last two seasons combined.

But Payne is now on an expiring contract and is owed $6.5 million next season. That is money that the cap-ruined Suns could stand to get rid of (though trading for and keeping someone like McConnell would essentially put them in the same place). Maybe the right play would be to dump Payne’s salary outright and replace his playmaking with this cheaper option instead.

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