azcentral sports columnist Greg Moore goes over a busy summer for the Suns star guard and what the future holds for the team.
Arizona Republic

Looks like the Suns gave up on Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight, reportedly trading them to Houston for Ryan Anderson and De’Anthony Melton, right? 

But isn’t it more likely that this is about the offensive system Phoenix wants to run under Igor Kokoskov next season – and money?

Yes, Chriss was developing a reputation as more petulant than productive. He reported out of shape. He was benched for a game after arguing with an assistant coach. And he was fined after shoving Utah guard Ricky Rubio.

All this while averaging 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds. He was hitting 3-pointers at below 30 percent and was committing 6.4 fouls per 48 minutes. 

It’s easy to see why someone could assume General Manager Ryan McDonough was ready to cut ties with the former one-and-done lottery pick.

But it’s unlikely that was the deciding factor.

Chriss, a traditional power forward, just didn’t fit Kokoskov’s system.

Kokoskov won a European title with an uptempo, 3-ball reliant attack. 

That calls for a stretch four, which would mean more time for Dragan Bender, who hasn’t proven he’s ready to contribute big minutes for a playoff contender.

Here’s where Ryan Anderson fits in. He’s a stretch-four, a career 38 percent 3-point shooter, and at 6-10, 240, he’s every bit as beefy as Chriss and can defend the post while committing just 3.5 fouls per 48 minutes. Plus, he’s a proven veteran.  

Chriss makes about $3 million per year.

Anderson makes more than $20 million per year.

You can’t trade them straight up.

This is where Knight comes in. His deal, about $15 million per year, makes the money math work.

It’s not a huge loss for Phoenix because the point guard isn’t required to be the primary playmaker in Kokoskov’s system.

Maybe they think the recently re-signed Isaiah Canaan is up to the job?


Reach Moore at [email protected] or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @WritingMoore.