After hearing from Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro about Avery Bradley last month, another name linked to the Suns this summer has emerged: Aaron Gordon.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Phoenix Suns will be one of three main teams vying for Gordon’s services once he hits the open market come July 1.
Deveney also mentions that the overall pursuit of Gordon will intensify once the elite crop of names — LeBron James, Paul George, etc. — choose their destinations. After they are off the board, all eyes will turn to Gordon and this strong crop of young, promising restricted free agents.
Alongside Gordon, Houston’s Clint Capela could be another target for Phoenix that’s available under a restricted tag.
If Phoenix goes aggressively after Gordon, that will say a lot about the future for one or both of Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. Gordon would immediately fill the 4 spot alongside presumably Deandre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba or Jaren Jackson Jr. if they decided to go the big man route on draft night.
Both of the Suns' prospects they selected in 2016 — Bender at No. 4 and Chriss at No. 8 via trade up — have shown flashes but not nearly enough consistency.
The 7’1 Croatian has started to turn a corner after seeing more minutes at center, but he needs to continue to be aggressive on offense. Meanwhile, Chriss doesn’t have answers for his current funk. If he wants to be a part of this roster long-term, those flashes will need to be seen consistently on a game-in, game-out basis.
With Gordon, he’s had steady production throughout his career scoring at the rim, but this year he added more scoring punch from beyond the arc. After a hot start, the former Arizona Wildcat has significantly cooled off but at least he’s showing the threat from there.
In his fourth season, Gordon is averaging 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game with the Magic.
Compared to Chriss, who’s shooting 29.6% from deep this season, Gordon is at a more respectable 34.6% clip.
He would add a much-needed scoring boost alongside Devin Booker in the frontcourt, and it would allow Gordon to mesh alongside either Ayton or Bamba and change their situation entirely on its head. All of the sudden, going from Chriss and Bender to Gordon and Ayton/Bamba is a huge upgrade in terms of win-now potential heading into 2018-2019.
Drifting into arguably the most important offseason facing the Suns since Steve Nash’s departure, how will they go about reshuffling their roster to make a playoff push next season? Hearing Gordon’s name linked to Phoenix, who will only be 23 come September, makes a lot of sense if they want to accelerate #TheTimeline while trying to still grow into a contender together.
The big question related to Gordon is how big will his price tag become? Odds are Indiana or Dallas will throw Gordon’s reps a max contract offer sheet, so Phoenix will likely have to do the same unless they can figure out an intriguing sign-and-trade package revolving some current roster assets.
It’s setting up to be an interesting offseason here in the Valley, that’s for sure.