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Yuta Watanabe Sent to the Memphis Grizzlies in a Three-Team Trade

Veteran forward Yuta Watanabe, who began his NBA career with the Grizzlies in 2018, returns to Memphis in a trade involving the Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets.

Phoenix Suns forward Yuta Watanabe was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, February 8, when the NBA announced a bevy of trades.

The NBA trade deadline was on Thursday, 3 PM EST (Friday at 5 AM JST).

In addition, the Brooklyn Nets were also a part of the three-team trade. 

Watanabe, 29, was in his first season with the Suns after spending the 2022-23 campaign with the Nets.

He began his career with the Grizzlies in 2018, then joined the Toronto Raptors in 2020 before moving on to Brooklyn two years later. 

In the 2022-23 season, Watanabe averaged a career-best 5.6 points and played a career-high 58 games for the Nets. He then signed a two-year, $5 million USD (¥747 million JPY) contract with Phoenix in July 2023.

At the time of the trade, the Suns owned a 30-21 record. The Nets (20-31) and the Grizzlies (18-34) are currently out of the playoff picture.

In addition to Watanabe, Memphis received big man Chimezie Metu, a sixth-year pro averaging 5.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 37 games in 2023-24. Meanwhile, they swapped 2026 first-round draft picks with Phoenix.

The Nets shipped 30-year-old forward Royce O'Neale to the Suns in exchange for 28-year-old forward Keita Bates-Diop, 25-year-old guard Jordan Goodwin and a trio of future second-round picks. O'Neale has been the most active of the Suns' newest acquisitions in the current season, appearing in 49 games to date.

To complete the three-team deal, the Grizzlies also parted ways with forward David Roddy, the 23rd pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, sending him to the Suns. Roddy, 22, averaged 8.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 48 games this season for Memphis before the trade.

Yuta Watanabe
Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga handles the ball as the Suns' Yuta Watanabe defends in the first quarter on December 12, 2023, in Phoenix. (Mark J Rebilas/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Limited Playing Time for Yuta Watanabe with the Suns

The 206-cm (6-foot-9) Watanabe played in 29 of the Suns' first 51 games this season through February 6. As a backup, he averaged 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 13.2 minutes in a Phoenix uniform. 

Watanabe, who shot a career-best 44.4% from 3-point range in 2021-22, made 32% of his 3s this season for the Suns. He's considered a solid defender and a versatile, hard-working player.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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