The Nuggets acquired McRae in a trade that sent point guard Shabazz Napier to the Washington Wizards. That move was just a smaller part of the four-team deal that ended with Clint Capela in Atlanta, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez in Minnesota, and Robert Covington in Houston.
Denver had no use for Napier, so the team decided to flip him for some wing help. But the Nuggets didn’t have many minutes for McRae, and he wasn’t exactly a fit for what head coach Mike Malone is doing.
Denver’s Loss is Phoenix’s Gain
All season long, the Suns have been looking for a shooting guard that can be a serviceable backup for star Devin Booker. Booker is playing 36 minutes per game this season, and he has played at least 38 minutes in four of the last five games. Getting him some rest is of the upmost importance for a Phoenix team that is heading nowhere fast.
With the loss of Kelly Oubre Jr., the Suns are no longer looking like a team that can make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Instead, Phoenix needs to make sure it can stay competitive heading into the offseason. Losses like the one that happened against Golden State last night can absolutely crush a locker room that is trying to get rid of a losing culture.
In McRae, the Suns will be getting a 28-year-old wing that is averaging 11.5 points per game on 41.8 percent shooting from the floor and 38.2 percent shooting from three. The 6-foot-5 guard is capable of getting really hot, as evidenced by his 29-point performance against the Miami Heat on Dec. 30. McRae went 9 for 14 from the floor in that game, and he chipped in eight assists for good measure.
An Extended Look
There is no guarantee that McRae will be back with the Suns next season, but Phoenix will acquire his bird rights if the team puts in a waiver claim on him. That would give general manager James Jones some wiggle room during the offseason.
Jones played with McRae for the Cavaliers from 2015 to 2017, so he should be plenty familiar with what he brings to the table. Over the last few years, McRae has established himself as a guy that can really score off the bench. He has bounced up and down between the G League and the NBA, but he has proven that he is capable of sticking at this level.
For McRae, this is an opportunity to show out for a team that actually needs him to play. Wasting away on the bench is a nightmare for a player that is in a contract year, so he grew frustrated in his time with Denver. He should be much happier in Phoenix, where he will instantly become the best bench scorer on the team. This is also his second stint with the team, as he played seven games for the Suns during the 2015-16 season.
Overall, this could be yet another sneaky move that ends up going well for Jones. The Suns have been sitting on an open roster spot since deciding not to bring back Jonah Bolden, and the team could have another if Oubre is indeed out for the year.