When the trade went down in late September that sent Deandre Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers, he wasn’t the big name in the deal. Nor was Jusuf Nurkic. It was Damian Lillard who, after spending 11 seasons in the Rose City, had navigated his exit and landed with the Milwaukee Bucks.
To make the mechanics of the trade work, numerous ancillary players were added. One of those assets was Grayson Allen, who ended up with the Phoenix Suns.
The initial response by the fan base was along the lines of “How could you?”. After all, Allen carried with him a reputation as a dirty player who crossed the line throughout his collegiate and professional career.
Yeah HUGE L for Pheonix, you traded Ayton for Grayson Allen and big that won’t see a 4th qrt all season. When you have 3 elite scorers you need rim protection and PHX just shipped it to Portland https://t.co/o4D4ohBPF2
— Jay McDonald (@BSm00veTrey5) September 27, 2023
Here we are now, a mere three-and-a-half months later, and Grayson Allen has been one of the most consistent members of the Suns. As well as one of the most productive.
Allen has started in all of his 33 appearances this season, behind only Jusuf Nurkic for most starts on the team. In those starts, he has averaged 13.2 points 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 49.5 FG%, and 46.2 3PT%. Every one of those statistics are career highs for the sixth-year player out of Duke.
The Suns as a whole, however, have been an average team.
The list of reasons as to why is long and the novel on how to fix it is even longer. The fact remains that the team is 20-18, scoring the 15th most points per game (115.6), allowing the 15th most points per game (114.3), with the 13th-best net rating (+1.3). Phoenix is mid in every sense of the word. (I did it! I appealed to all of our Gen Z readers! No cap!)
One way to correct the issue is via the trade market, and with 25 days until the trade deadline, rumors are that the Suns are looking for an athletic wing to bolster their roster. Unfortunately, due to the construction of their roster, James Jones does not have many outs to do so.
There is one player who has career-high statistics across the board. There is one player who is being paid $8.5 million this season, the fifth most on the team. There is one player with a very appealing contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. There is one player who possesses a skill set that any other team in the NBA would love to add to their roster.
That player is Grayson Allen.
Phoenix doesn’t have many appealing assets. Due to the Big Three of Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant — whose contracts add up to $130.3 million this season (and $151.1 million next year) — the back end of the roster is filled with players on veteran minimum contracts. Granted, these players (for the most part) are young and attempting to prove to the Suns and the NBA that their next deal should include a few more 0’s at the end of it.
The problem is these players aren’t proving it.
The inconsistency from players like Yuta Watanabe, Keita Bates-Diop, Josh Okogie, and Jordan Goodwin is forcing the Suns to look outside of the organization for help. And what isn’t helping is their lackluster play combined with their vet minimum paychecks. No one on the open market is lining up to add Keita Bates-Diop, and even if they were, what do you expect in return? Another vet minimum player. Oh joy.
But when you add Grayson Allen to the fold, knowing that he could be the player who the Suns could begin to stack contracts on top of, the conversation shifts. His appeal is to a team looking to add shooting and, even if it’s a half-season rental, it could be what they need to push their chances of winning over the top.
I’m looking at you, Orlando Magic. You and your 34.3% shooting from beyond the arc. But I’ll save my thoughts on that for another piece.
Do you feel that? The inner struggle and turmoil of potentially trading away a player who is shooting 46.7% from deep? The desire for a point guard or another backup big coupled with the surprising love you feel for GA? It’s tearing up your heart a little bit, isn’t it? But when you are apart, do you feel it too?
We’ve grown to appreciate who and what Grayson Allen is as a player and as a person. He’s not the villain we were led to believe. Nay, he is someone who hustles, shows surprising athleticism, and shoots the living crap out of the ball.
“He’s always been aggressive. Sometimes we don’t get enough shots for Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen, but we’re training our stars to look for those guys.”
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) January 6, 2024
The question becomes what do you value more? Do you think that adding a stabilizing point guard or a consistent backup center is more valuable than the intangibles Allen possesses? Does Allen have a doppelganger on the team, knowing you also have Eric Gordon, therefore making him more expendable?
I always leave these things asking questions rather than answering them, don’t I? So allow me to answer them with my perspective.
I’m surprised by how much I appreciate what Grayson brings to the team, night in and night out. He’s reliable, which goes against the narrative of this team. Phoenix is truly an unreliable team. He’s professionally conducted himself, had some truly stellar games, and been a stabilizing force for Phoenix. Yes, I have become a fan of Grayson Allen. (just typing that feels weird)
That being said, you will never sell higher on Allen than you can at this moment in time.
His contract expires at the end of the season, and based on the year he’s having, he’s going to get plenty of offers outside of the Valley. The Suns must capitalize on what he’s done thus far this season, which will simultaneously allow them to bolster their roster and/or bolster their draft capital moving forward.
I’d hate to see Allen leave, but I also believe that trading him is the best opportunity for this roster both in the short term and for the long term. It’s the right move if what you receive in return compliments the roster.
So we will hit the trade machine. We’ll see what is out there and whether or not it makes sense.
When it happens? It’ll hurt. We’ll ponder whether or not it was the right decision. But hopefully whoever the Suns gain in return, whether it’s a player or draft capital, will answer many of the questions that we have about this team.
And hopefully they can be as stable as Allen has been.