Hours before the February 8 trade deadline, rumors and speculations continue to swirl around the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns who are reportedly engaging in a trade deal involving Marquese Chriss, a former 8th overall pick. The report came from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, saying that the Lakers emerged as the “favorites” to land the Suns forward out of the teams who expressed interest.
Chriss’ recent verbal altercation with the team’s strength coach may have contributed to the Suns’ decision to make him available on the trading block. Per Chris Haynes of ESPN, the 20-year-old forward received a suspension because of the incident. In an appearance on his weekly radio show Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough addressed the rumors stating that they are shopping Marquese Chriss.
“We believe in Marquese, we like his talent, we like his potential,” McDonough said. “I’m not sure where that (report) comes from given that really nothing with Marquese has been discussed. I don’t see anything there happening.”
As most people think, the deal doesn’t make sense for the Lakers and the Suns. The Suns are currently in the middle of a rebuilding process, and according to Azcentral, McDonough wants to keep their young players. Instead of dealing before the February 8 trade deadline, the Suns plan to use their salary cap space to pursue big names in 2018 NBA free agency. Phoenix is one of the few teams who will have more than $20 million in salary cap space this summer.
Meanwhile, the Lakers don’t have an urgent need to add another young power forward on their roster. They currently have a logjam at their frontcourt, and it remains questionable if they can give Marquese Chriss playing time over Kyle Kuzma or Julius Randle. The Lakers’ decision to shift their focus in the 2019 NBA free agency means that they want to see more of their young core develop as a team.
Despite the absence of Lonzo Ball, the Lakers are starting to show good chemistry and won seven of their last 10 games. They are currently on a three-game winning streak where they defeated the Brooklyn Nets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Phoenix Suns. This could be one of the major reasons why rumors involving Jordan Clarkson and Randle started to die down.
Meanwhile, the Suns are doing the opposite. They are on a three-game losing streak and lost eight of their last 10 games. If their struggle continues, it will not be a surprise if they land a lottery pick in the 2018 NBA draft.