Can Royce O’Neale help the Suns’ big three? Trade grades for Suns-Nets deal

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The Suns have been trying to figure out how to fill out their roster with competent playoff role players around Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal since they put those three together last summer. Things just got a little bit better on the wing for them at the deadline. They’re bringing in Royce O’Neale from the Nets in exchange with draft compensation heading out to Memphis and Brooklyn in this three-team deal. The Nets are also acquiring David Roddy.

The Suns desperately needed someone who can knock down a 3-point shot and play defense on the wing. Acquiring O’Neale provides that need. But how does the whole deal look? The red ink is out, so let’s throw grades down on this trade.

Suns acquire Royce O’Neale, David Roddy

Not too long ago, Royce O’Neale was traded to the Brooklyn Nets to help out Kevin Durant on the wing. Now, almost two years later, he’s being moved to the desert to help out KD once again. O’Neale isn’t a lockdown defender nor one of the best shooters in the league, but he’s really solid at both. He can defend on-ball pretty well at times and is good in a help concept off the ball. He’s a career 38.1 percent shooter from outside, which is good enough for the Suns to feel confident about having him on the floor in big spots or for key stretches.

The Suns have tried guys like Josh Okogie, Keita Bates-Diop and Nassir Little on the wings to help out, but there’s always a massive deficiency in one or more aspects of them being reliable 3-and-D guys. O’Neale fits that bill as well as anybody on the roster and should be able to provide support much like Grayson Allen has done, although not with quite the 3-point accuracy that Allen has provided.

As for the Roddy aspect of this deal, he’s a strong body who is too short to play as big as teams need him to be on the court. He’s a 6-foot-4 power forward who can’t shoot or can’t finish well around the rim. Roddy is decent at moving the ball but isn’t a very strong rebounder. He would’ve thrived in the NBA a few decades ago, but he might not be long for the league without a massive upgrade in outside shooting happening soon.

As Shams noted, the Suns also have two open roster spots after this trade, so we can expect them to be extremely active and aggressive for whoever comes up in the buyout market.

Grade: A-

The Grizzlies got rid of their misfired 2022 first-round draft pick by acquiring a pick swap down the road. They selected Roddy 23rd overall that year over guys like MarJon Beauchamp, Nikola Jović and Peyton Watson. Almost anybody selected after him would’ve paid off more, but at least they get to hope the Suns will be bad enough to execute a pick swap down the road at some point.

Acquiring Yuta Watanabe is both a good basketball move and fun for the fan base. He was a bit of a fan favorite his first go-round with Memphis from 2018-2020. He’s big and athletic for a wing. Despite his shooting struggles this season, I think he has a pretty reliable outside shot (37.7 percent for career, 40.4 in previous four seasons). The Grizzlies should try to retain him after free agency because he’s a good role player to have in the back of your rotation. Metu gives them a little size that they’ve jettisoned in recent trades.

Grade: B+

Nets acquire Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan Goodwin, three second-round picks

The Nets gave up a 2023 first-round pick to acquire O’Neale, so they’ve now received three second-round picks and a pu pu platter of minimum-salary role players to send him out. It’s not a great return on value, but such is life when Durant and Kyrie Irving decide they don’t want to lead your franchise anymore. This deal is probably more about the second-round picks than anything. They acquired Thad Young and Dennis Schröder for Spencer Dinwiddie earlier in the day. And we know a roster crunch made them waive Harry Giles. Now, they send out O’Neale for this.

Bates-Diop is a solid role player in limited minutes. A year ago, they sent out Kessler Edwards amid another roster crunch. Bates-Diop is like an upgraded version of Edwards on some level. I like Goodwin quite a bit as a guard to develop for the bench. The Nets might not have the minutes to give out to Goodwin unless an injury happens, but he’s shown some flashes with the ball where I think he can develop into a rotation guy.

Grade: C+

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(Top photo: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)

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