Indiana Pacers point guard T.J. McConnell has been the subject of recent trade rumors, with the Phoenix Suns emerging as a potential target. However, that interest is not mutual, as the 31-year-old veteran wants to stay with the Pacers.
NBA Rumors: Phoenix Suns Targeting T.J. McConnell
Undrafted in 2015, McConnell spent the first four seasons of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, backing up Ben Simmons in an efficient reserve role. Through four seasons with Philly, he averaged 6.4 points, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game on 49/34/77 splits. McConnell then signed with the Pacers in 2019, agreeing to a two-year, $7 million contract and playing behind former teammate Malcolm Brogdon. He then re-signed with the team on a four-year, $33.7 million deal in 2021. Last season was McConnell’s best, as he averaged 8.7 points, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He shot 54% from the field, 44% from deep (a career-high) and 85% from the stripe (another career-high).
Phoenix Suns and McConnell Rumors
Recently, I wrote about how the Suns had seemingly solved their point guard problem by designating Bradley Beal as their starter and Jordan Goodwin as their reserve. However, as Phoenix continues to build the best pieces possible around Beal, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant, that search continues with the search for a backup facilitator.
According to ESPN, the Suns have four other options behind Beal at point guard: Saben Lee, Booker, Goodwin, and Damion Lee. All of them are viable choices—including Booker, who could easily slide into the role if need be. However, it’s clear the Suns are looking for a true and reliable point guard, and McConnell looks to be the one to fill that gap.
For all of this talk about McConnell being moved, a path to such a trade is more challenging than it sounds. The Suns had to start from scratch this offseason, as only a handful of players remained from last season’s roster. They won’t be able to engage in a sign-and-trade scenario until December 15, when newly signed players can be traded. As for a win-now trade, that option is likely out the window. The Suns are already short on assets, even with the trade exception generated via the Cameron Payne deal. The fact that they are a second-apron team (meaning they can’t absorb more salary than what they give out in a trade) hampers their options.
The Only Path for a McConnell Trade
The only way out is through a larger deal. Bleacher Report proposed a bold trade scenario for every NBA team, and they had the Suns sending Ayton to Indy for McConnell and Myles Turner. It’s worth noting that Deandre Ayton’s name came up in rumors with other teams (e.g. the Dallas Mavericks), initially for depth. Now that the depth problem has been resolved, the Suns will only need marginal improvements from here on out. Engaging in a trade like this is a big ask for both sides, and it’s unlikely to materialize soon.
Phoenix’s goal of completing a McConnell trade seems like a dream for now, but anything is possible.