Early Tuesday morning Shams Charania announced that there was “Increasing Interest” in Charlotte’s Jalen McDaniels as a trade candidate ahead of the deadline. According to Shams his sources suggest the Phoenix Suns have interest in McDaniels as well as “Several” other teams. Jalen McDaniels is an unrestricted free agent this off-season, so Charlotte do risk losing him for nothing if they don’t trade him now.
In Shams report he goes onto say that McDaniels could fit as part of a 3 team deal which includes Jae Crowder who has refused to play for the Suns this season. It is unclear from the report if Crowder would be going to Charlotte in this proposed 3 team deal, or who the other team or players might be.
This came out of nowhere, with McDaniels earning just $1.5 million this year trading him for a player of any quality or experience would be a challenge. It’s not a surprise teams would be interested in McDaniels, Jalen has emerged as one of the few bright spots of this season. A versatile forward who can play and guard multiple positions, stretch the floor and attack closeouts, who wouldn’t want to add him to a playoff rotation? The reason I’m surprised is that Charlotte seem willing to discuss him openly on the trade market, in my opinion he is an integral part of this young core and could be a starting forward next season.
It’s important to understand the wording of the report from Shams, it states other teams are interested in McDaniels, it doesn’t mention once that Charlotte are actively looking to trade him. Kupchak wouldn’t be doing due diligence if he didn’t explore every potential deal, especially with players on expiring contracts. Jalen is a West coast kit through and through, maybe he has signalled to the team he won’t return in Free agency already? Possible, but I seriously doubt it. Jalen has always appeared to be a happy camper in Charlotte, he’s well liked by his teammates, he gets consistent playing time and has improved year on year.
Personally, I would make re-signing McDaniels one of the key targets of the off-season, even putting him ahead of PJ Washington on the priority list. We see 6’10 wings who can shoot, defend and play hard giving positive value in every playoff series. Charlotte might not have the core pieces yet to emphasise his value, but they have to believe it will come. If the Hornets did part ways and end up with Jae Crowder who quit on his team this season, it would be a bizarre and confounding move.