The NBA summer’s winding down, with most of the big names on the market having signed new deals or found new homes, but that doesn’t mean teams are done dealing. The Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets did a bit of business on Friday morning, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, agreeing to terms on a swap of veteran forwards Jared Dudley and Darrell Arthur.
According to Woj, the Suns will send Dudley, a 33-year-old on his second tour of duty in the desert, and a protected 2021 second-round draft pick to Brooklyn. In return, they’ll get Arthur, 30, who joined the Nets just last week in what amounted to a salary-dump deal for the Denver Nuggets, for whom he’d played for the past five seasons.
What do the Suns get out of the deal?
About $2 million in salary savings. Dudley’s set to make $9.53 million this season, in the final year of the three-year, $30 million contract he signed with Phoenix in 2016. Arthur, meanwhile, is owed just under $7.5 million in the last year of his three-year, $26 million deal. The deal gets the Suns about $3.2 million under the salary cap for next season.
Arthur’s not expected to stick around. Woj reports that he’s “headed for [a] buyout,” which would allow the 6-foot-9 Kansas product to head back into free agency in search of a reserve gig with a playoff contender who might like having a consistent, active, defensively capable four-five with a credible jumper (36.2 percent from 3-point range over five seasons in Denver). The move, then, also clears up some more playing time at the four spot — where Dudley averaged 14.3 minutes per game over 48 appearances last season — for incoming veteran 3-and-D type Trevor Ariza and incumbent young Suns Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson.
“I love Phoenix, I love Devin Booker and Robert Sarver and what the organization did for me, but there was zero chance I was going to get to play,” Dudley told Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic on Friday morning. “I was going to get 65 to 70 DNPs.”
What do the Nets get out of the deal?
At least one more asset, and potentially some more options.
Off the rip, Brooklyn nabs a top-35-protected second-round pick in 2021 at the cost of a little over $2 million. Maybe, by then, the Suns will have gotten on the right track toward being a consistent playoff contender, and the pick will wind up down near the bottom of the second round. Even so, it could wind up being a more valuable selection than you’d think, if 2021 does wind up being the year of the abolition of the one-and-done rule, and the first draft in which high-school prospects would return to the draft pool.
Moreover, it continues Brooklyn’s efforts under general manager Sean Marks to rebuild the team’s cache of future draft picks after multiple deals completed by his predecessors in which the Nets sent out draft considerations as sweeteners in a string of now-for-later deals.
Since hiring Marks in February of 2016, the Nets have now added five future second-round picks: one from Indiana in 2016’s Thaddeus Young deal, one from Philadelphia in last December’s Jahlil Okafor-Nik Stauskas deal, one from Denver in last week’s Arthur-Kenneth Faried deal, one from Portland via Atlanta in last week’s Jeremy Lin deal, and now one from Phoenix. Brooklyn also took in a 2019 first-round choice from Denver that’s top-12-protected through 2024, and will convert to a pair of second-round picks in 2024 and ’25 if it hasn’t conveyed by then.
Brooklyn still owes some out, too, having sent a 2021 second-round pick to Charlotte in the Dwight Howard trade, a ’25 second-rounder to the Hawks in the Lin deal, and swap rights on their ’23 second-round pick in that same Atlanta transaction. But with their punishing pick debt to the Boston Celtics finally at its end, the Nets now own all of their own first-round selections moving forward, could have two first-round picks in next summer’s draft, and have control of as many as six second-round picks in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 drafts. After a barren, crops-burned and earth-salted period in which the franchise lacked the means to import and retain low-cost young talent, Marks’ shrewd maneuvering has left the Nets with an inexpensive roster chock full of 26-and-under players of varying levels of intrigue, possibly as much as $61 million in salary cap space for next summer and, finally, some draft ammunition in reserve.
What about Jared Dudley?
More of a post-up player coming out of Boston College last decade, Dudley has made himself into an NBA mainstay through a combination of smart positional defense and credible 3-point shooting, knocking down 39.6 percent of his long balls in an 11-year pro career. A persistent toe injury, a reduced role and the organizational ennui that enveloped last year’s submarining Suns limited his effectiveness in Phoenix last season, but as a solid communicator with a great sense of when to be and where who can serve as a catch-and-shoot outlet, he seems like he’d be a rock-solid fit as a small-ball power forward in Kenny Atkinson’s spread-the-floor attack if Marks decides to keep him in Brooklyn.
Then again, they might not. According to Woj, the Nets will talk with Dudley about a buyout of his $9.5 million contract, too. If he gets free, you’d have to imagine that multiple good teams that could use some more shooting, heady defense and a solid veteran presence in the locker room — including, for instance, a Houston Rockets club that lost Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute and might want another option on the wing, even after adding James Ennis and possibly bringing in Carmelo Anthony — would waste little time putting in a call to check on Dudley’s availability.
“I’m excited about going out and showing I can still play,” Dudley told Bordow. “I’m looking to bounce back. People will see I’m the healthiest and in the best shape I’ve been in for years.”
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