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Vol.3, Iss.8: Time To Kenny Hustle
An open letter to James Jones with a trade idea. Or maybe two?
It’s Trade SZN…..
When December 15th hit, so did the increase in NBA trade rumours. If that yearly tradition is what has finally brought you here, I’d ask that you think about hitting that subscribe button below. For all the regulars, I hope you enjoy the usual content that I have mixed with a little twist for this Issue.
Let’s Make A Deal….
Dear James Jones,
Before 2021 draws to a close, our beloved Phoenix Suns play host twice to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Footprint Center.
Will I be watching? Of course! I always do.
However, I am going to perhaps need a little extra motivation over the frenetic festive period. Especially given what should otherwise be a couple of fait accompli games against a lowly OKC. But never fear, I think I’ve found it.
Say hello to Kenrich Williams!
I’ve been keeping a close eye on Kenrich since he re-joined the Thunder lineup on December 6th. In the 7 games since, Williams is averaging 8.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists & 1.7 steals in 22.9 minutes. Hardly eye popping stats but trust me James, Williams is exactly your kind of guy. And I’m going to show you why!
Actually, why not let Kenrich show you?
The upcoming PHX vs OKC games slated for December 23rd & 29th have been circled on my calendar for a while now. You’ll see there is more to Williams than what simply appears within the box score. The former TCU Horned Frog is the perfect role player to make a current Phoenix Sun.
You see Mr. Jones, the now Thunder combo forward sports the nickname of Kenny Hustle. It’s apt because that’s exactly what Williams does. And that’s what I’m asking you to do too - start hustling like Kenny!
The Trade Proposal
Now Champ, let me begin by stating that I am sure you know who Kenrich Williams is. Let me also admit to the fact that I am certainly not the only person to suggest his name as a trade target either.
However, I think I might be the first to propose this unique avenue for you to get the deal done…..
Out - PHX 1st (Protected 1-12 in ‘25, 1-10 in ‘26, 1-8 in ‘27, unprotected in ‘28) & Jalen Smith
In - PHX ‘22 1st & Kenrich Williams
A trade between OKC & PHX, or any team for that matter, is not easy when it comes to Williams. The Thunder are well within their rights to hold onto Kenrich unless a valuable asset is forthcoming. Williams services can be guaranteed on a contract for this season & the following. Terrific value with this sort of on-court prowess.
Perhaps just as understandable, enquiring teams may likely be hesitant to offer up a future draft pick that tempts Oklahoma City enough to part with Williams. But that’s where things get interesting for the Thunder & your Suns, James.
Phoenix already owe OKC a future draft pick from the Chris Paul trade you pulled off two off-seasons ago & it is all but definite to convey after this season. As of right now with your Suns sitting atop the current NBA standings, the Thunder would receive the 30th pick from Phoenix to finalise the trade that crowned you Executive Of The Year.
On the OKC side, Sam Presti currently boasts a treasure chest of up to 12 (!) 1st Round Draft Picks from other teams between now & 2026. Not to mention, the Thunder still possess all of their own 1st Round Picks & a swag of 2nd Round Picks of their own or owed from other teams. You can scroll down to OT to see the full summary.
All of this is to say, a trade built this way might not just correctly address Williams’ value. It may also pique the Thunder’s interest enough given their current draft hand.
Why you ask, GM Jones?
Well, let me throw a question right back at you to relay to GM Presti. Pick up the phone & ask the Thunder if they’d prefer to take a lowly pick into the ‘22 NBA Draft OR instead kick the can down the road a little on the CP3 trade?
Why the Thunder say yes - Oklahoma City get worse this season (which they want), take a chance on a recent lottery pick in a position of need (which you clearly no longer want), give back a bad 1st (which they shouldn’t want) & take the same deal structure, in the hope of landing a better 1st down the track.
Why the Suns say yes - Phoenix get their 1st back this year (which we will discuss later) & this guy…..
The Rotation Role
James, going to all this effort for a role player who might play 10-15 minutes a night may hardly seem worth it. Let me point to the past, as well as look to the future to help sway your decision.
Let’s go back first & reflect on this statement - you can never have too many wings & the 20/21 post-season was proof of that.
Currently, the 21/22 Phoenix Suns roster you have built has 3 obvious rotation wings -Mikal Bridges,
Jae Crowder & Cam Johnson. You can throw Devin Booker in there too if you like, but I tend to categorize Book as a guard when dividing the roster into 3 simple role-types - guards, wings & bigs.
Then there’s Abdel Nader who is currently injured. Perhaps you know more about Doolie’s future availability than I do, but his rotation spot is hardly a lock even when healthy. Behind Nader are the 2 Two-Way players - Ish Wainright & Chandler Hutchison. If you are currently using two further 6’6 wings to occupy those flexible roster spots, I tend to believe you suspect just what I do - we are 1 rotation wing short to do stuff like this. Right?
But while I have no doubt Williams the player, can eat up all of the regular season minutes the duo of Nader (14.8MPG) & Torrey Craig (18.8MPG) played across 56 combined games last season - it’s the Playoff minutes of Craig that I am far more focused on.
Last post-season, Monty played Crowder (33.1MPG), Bridges (32.1MPG) & Johnson (21.1MPG) while still finding minutes for Craig (12.1MPG). All 4 of those Suns wings appeared in every single post-season game, on the way to the NBA Finals. All 22.
It’s THAT role, a trade like this one would be addressing. There is no doubt Williams the coach, covets that extra spot in his rotation for long athletes who can shoot.
The Player Type
Okay so, what would the Phoenix Suns really be getting in Williams?
Kenny Hustle stands at 6 feet & 6 inches, weighs in at around 210 pounds & tends to occupy either forward spot when called upon in the NBA. By now, you are probably sensing where I feel Williams can fit.
That’s right - that elusive extra wing spot that feels very much up for grabs!
We both know that role is all about defending multiple positions, filling in the gaps, moving the ball to the open man & hitting the odd shot when that man is you.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s the ability to do all that the role entails without hurting the team. I know I said it wasn’t about the numbers with Williams but here’s a stat just too good not to share. As a team, OKC have a +/- total of negative 249 on the season. Despite that, Kenny leads all Thunder players with a positive total of 29.
But wait, there’s more!
Coach Monty seems to have preferred Abdel Nader when healthy in the past. You however chose to bring Craig in on the cheap last season & I know many fans would like to see you try pull that off again. Even if it costs a little more this time than just cash considerations.
But for me, I prefer my man Kenrich Lo Williams.
The base level production is all on par, or advantage Williams, between the 3. Don’t believe me? Scroll to the OT section below, for the full statistical comparison.
The defensive versatility is 100% there too.
Here’s a list of players I tracked Williams guarding in just the last 14 days of matchups; Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Tim Hardaway Jnr, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jonas Valanciunas, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Reggie Jackson, Dillon Brooks & Ja Morant. Pretty versatile, hey?
The shooting & playmaking aspects of the game though, are where Kenny really starts to set himself apart from others in that role. Williams is currently shooting 41.1% from deep on 2.2 attempts, with an assist to turnover ratio of 3.3 : 1.4 - per 36 minutes.
How many times last season did you think to yourself “what if Torrey could stretch the floor a little more?” or “if only Abdel could see that pass?”. I know I did. A lot!
The Future Options
Alright, back to the trade tease from earlier. Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Jones!
As is stands, Phoenix currently owe their ‘22 First Round Pick to the Thunder. This somewhat limits your ability to trade future draft picks in any other future trades. Although that pick is almost certain to convey this year, the protection language on the pick means any other trade must refer to ‘the next available pick’ the Suns can convey. Likely to be in 2024.
While that is certainly possible, it is perhaps not as attractive to teams looking to offload veterans this season in exchange for immediate Draft capital. Nor would it be smart for Phoenix to trade a future First Round Pick in a smaller deal, without placing some further protection upon it. Which again, becomes less attractive to buyers.
By getting back the ‘22 selection & perhaps even more importantly - pushing the pick owed to OKC to ‘25 - the Suns can now trade a future First Round Pick in either the upcoming ‘22 or following ‘23 NBA Draft. That’s 2 upcoming years that provide a much more assured outcome for the slot Phoenix will likely land. Giving both sides in any deal, a level of immediacy & certainty to work with.
Would you be interested in making another small rotation piece trade before the deadline? I hate to mention it but the wrong injury at either guard or big spot & you might just have to, James. What better way than to offer up pick #30 for a veteran rental from a team out of Playoffs contention?
Take it & run, I say. So does Williams!
Maybe you still have your eye on a bigger trade to upgrade the starting five? Or even the first option off the bench? As much as I am ALL IN on this current Suns core with Williams as the extra wing, I definitely think K-Will is capable of taking on a larger role if you decide to go larger with a secondary move.
I’ve definitely still got my eye on you, after the interesting decisions made during the off-season. Was it all posturing for the cap flexibility to potentially make a bigger move if it became available? Well if it was, the Williams trade would further add to your ability of offer another NBA team a buffet of assets to get any deal done. Picks, young players, contracts for salary matching - you name it, we’d have it.
It’s this flexibility that makes the cost of simply deferring a First Round Pick in the OKC/PHX trade all the more attractive, in my opinion. Not to mention, you are going to need valuable contracts next season too & Williams comes with a $2,000,000 non-guaranteed deal for 22/23. A bargain for plays like this.
So James - as we bring in the New Year of 2022, it’s time to reflect on what 2021 has taught us. Here’s what I’ve learnt in the last 12 months…..
Under your stewardship, my Suns are finally good again. In fact, they showed they are great enough to make it all the way to the NBA Finals. In retrospect, the trade for Torrey Craig was a masterstroke that contributed to that feat. With similar hindsight, JaVale McGe
e ’s addition coming sooner may have helped us go all the way instead. Even after Dario Saric went down. At least the Suns backup big-man thinks so.
I’ve also learnt that Devin Booker is a stone cold killer. Deandre Ayton loves to show up on the big stage. Mikal Bridges is a bonafide First Team All Defense candidate. Jake Rowder is a real person. And that when they are on, the Cams can swing games.
Kenrich can compliment this core. But is there someone else that could too?
No, I don’t mean Chris Paul.
You already made that trade & that’s exactly why you should make this next one. And maybe even the one after that. CP3 isn’t getting any younger & nobody knows more about the pitfalls of falling short of the ultimate goal due to forces out of your control.
And yet, Phoenix have been quite lucky on the health front in recent times. The entire NBA has learnt that injuries are as big a part of the game as ever before. Without the required depth, they can derail your season entirely. And if not that, then there’s the ill-timed health & safety protocols announcements that all teams & fans alike dread.
I’ve learnt that CP3 was the antidote all Suns fans needed after several years of poisonous Point Guard play. At first, the pure joy of watching him was enough. But now, I’m feeling greedy. I’ve learnt just how close we are. Down to moves on the margins possibly being the difference between finally marrying Larry or once again becoming the bridesmaid who watches their best friend walk down the aisle instead.
James, please don’t leave any stone unturned while Chris Paul is still playing at this level. The other guys might have a chance to make it back one day. Chris won’t.
Start with Kenny & then continue the hustle.
Just a guy who wants to see Kenrich Williams do this in a Suns uniform.
P.S In case I wasn’t clear enough - WIN AT ALL COSTS! For all the complaining I've done in the past about the minutiae of roster moves, I promise I won’t give a shit about any move that’s in the interests of winning the whole damn thing!
No further content for OT this time around. That was a very niche & long Newsletter. If you made it this far already, then thank you!
Instead, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a safe & happy holidays. Go Suns!