PHOENIX - The Phoenix Suns have traded Marcus Morris, Danny Granger and Reggie Bullock to the Detroit Pistons for a future draft pick, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The move was very likely a bid to clear salary space to sign free agent LaMarcus Aldridge.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal had not been announced.
The Suns met with Aldridge, one of the top available NBA free agents this summer, on Wednesday after signing former Dallas Mavericks forward Tyson Chandler and re-signing guard Brandon Knight. Chandler, Knight and guard Eric Bledsoe were among a contingent from the Suns that made a pitch to Aldridge, who is weighing several teams to sign with.
Phoenix needs to clear salary cap space if it will be able to sign Aldridge to a max contract and took a calculated risk by unloading three players for a 2020 second-round draft pick. The move, which will clear $8.5 million off the books, isn't all the space the Suns need to sign Aldridge, but certainly puts them a big step closer.
The Suns agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract with Chandler and a five-year, $70 million deal with Knight on Wednesday.
Phoenix officials then met with Aldridge, bringing along the three players to show they are serious about building a contender in the desert. Aldridge, a four-time NBA All-Star with the Portland Trail Blazers, started with a list of about a half-dozen teams.
The San Antonio Spurs, considered a front-runner to land Aldridge, traded centre Tiago Splitter to Atlanta on Wednesday in an apparent move to clear cap space.
The Suns trade again splits up Marcus and his twin brother Markieff, who have spent most of their lives playing together. The twins played at Kansas and spent three seasons together in the desert after Marcus was traded from Houston, which selected him with the 14th overall pick of the 2011 NBA draft.
A small forward, Marcus Morris averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds last season, and could compete for a starting job with the Pistons.
Granger averaged 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds with Miami before being traded to Phoenix last season. He did not play a game for the Suns because of a knee injury and exercised his one-year, $2.17 million option with the team last month.
A former All-Star small forward, Granger has played 10 NBA seasons with three teams. He started his career with nine straight seasons at Indiana before being traded to Philadelphia in February 2014. The 76ers bought out his contract less than a week later and he then signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. He was a free agent after the season and signed with Miami last summer.
Bullock, a guard, averaged 1.9 points in 26 games with the Suns after a midseason trade last year.