There's a minor trade rumor reported by Hoops World that the Phoenix Suns are talking to the Indiana Pacers about trading Earl Clark for Solomon Jones. Clark and Jones are both 6-10 forwards, but they are very different players.
Earl Clark, the Suns' 2009 draft pick (14th, first round), is a perimeter-oriented guy who has potential in a lot of areas, but hasn't really shown the ability to play yet at the NBA level. Some argue that he's simply not had the chance and, given more time and opportunity to play on a regular basis, he would develop into a solid NBA rotation player.
Perhaps Clark can become a guy like Tyrus Thomas or Travis Outlaw. who come off the bench to provide their teams some scoring from the front line and can play a little defense. Earl has a different set of skills than those two, but in terms of impact and role, that's probably his upside.
Solomon Jones, drafted in 2006 (33rd overall, second round) by the Atlanta Hawks, is more of a physical, interior rebounding-type power forward with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He's never put up good numbers and isn't this season, either, as a backup big man behind Roy Hibbert. He's averaging 4.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in about 14 minutes per game. He does shoot the ball well from the line (78%) and is hitting over 60 percent of his shots from within ten feet.
Jones' upside after four-plus years in the league is about where he is now. I don't know if he has the energy and other intangibles to fill a Louis Amundson role, but in theory he could give the Suns that kind of skill set.
Both Jones and Clark are on expiring contracts, with Clark making about $400,000 more than Jones' $1.5 million contract for this season.
The Pacers, who already have Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough, could use a forward with some offensive potential and Clark certainly has that. He can put the ball on the floor and attack the rim and has the vision and passing ability to create for his teammates, as well. Mid-range shooting is streaky, but given consistent minutes would probably improve.
The Suns haven't found a way to use Clark, but could potentially use the toughness and defense of Jones. There's no room in the already log-jammed 10-man rotation, but he at least gives the Suns a defensive option off the bench to play power forward, which is something they lack right now.
It's hard to swallow a trade that sends a number 14 pick with upside for a number 33 pick who has pretty much reached his NBA potential. However, it is a deal that makes sense for both sides, so you can see why the teams might be talking.
You have to imagine (and hope) the Suns are trying to get a bit more in the deal, even if it's just a second-round draft pick, since the Suns trade away their 2011 second-round pick in the Hakim Warrick sign-and-trade deal.