Young, defensive-minded wings who can knock down 3-pointers and attack close-outs are in high demand around the league.
Enter the Hornets’ Jalen McDaniels. The fourth-year wing has taken a step forward this season; given the opportunity for more minutes he has grabbed it and has looked like part of the future in Charlotte, averaging 10.9 points a game while being a quality perimeter defender. As the Hornets have stumbled, a few teams have called to check on McDaniels’ availability, including the Suns, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“Sources tell me that the Suns have emerged as a team with interest in (Jalen) McDaniels, among several others in recent weeks.”
NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on teams showing interest in the Charlotte Hornets forward. pic.twitter.com/eyv3keH3Oi
— The Rally (@TheRally) January 10, 2023
Charania suggests a three-team deal that finally sends Jae Crowder out of Phoenix and nets them McDaniels (and likely more), but doesn’t give any details of what that might look like. Three-team trades are notoriously hard to pull off and rare at the trade deadline. This has the markings of a leak from Phoenix or another team hoping to pry McDaniels loose from Charlotte.
McDaniels (the brother of Minnesota’s Jaden) is a switchable wing defender (who has played 26% of his minutes at the four this season) and would be a fit with the Suns. However, there has been interest from Cleveland and other teams looking for wing depth.
The first question is, does Charlotte want to trade him? He is making just $1.9 million this season then becomes an unrestricted free agent. He has fit well next to LaMelo Ball. Mitch Kupchak and the Hornets’ front office likely would prefer to re-sign him this summer and keep him as part of a young core. There simply are not a lot of 6’9″ wings who can defend and knock down shots, when you get one you hold on.
If McDaniels has let the Hornets know he plans to leave via free agency, that changes the dynamic. However, if he’s open to staying then why trade him?
Because McDaniels makes $1.9 million, trading him and bringing value back to Charlotte would be difficult. The Hornets aren’t looking for a veteran on a max deal, they are rebuilding, so who is sending them good picks and young players that would interest them more than McDaniels?
The Suns and other teams may be interested in McDaniels, but pulling off a trade is a long shot.