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Gambo: Suns and Julius Randle have mutual interest heading into free agency

Is Randle the ideal frontcourt partner for Deandre Ayton?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

One player who hasn’t been discussed much as a possible power forward target in free agency, Julius Randle, seems to have his eyes set on the Valley. The question is, are the Suns also interested in Randle’s services?

According to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro, interest seems to be there from both sides, as we’re now one month away from free agency kicking off.

This past season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Randle averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists in only 30.6 minutes while also carrying a 60 true shooting percentage. The 24-year-old, who’s also a former Kentucky Wildcat like Devin Booker, had a career-best season on the offensive end, but the exact opposite on the defensive end with a minus-0.4 Defensive Box Plus-Minus.

Randle would be a mixed bag, as far as his overall fit in Phoenix.

Especially in a frontcourt with Deandre Ayton, where shooting and versatile defense needs to be prioritized, the 6’9” forward would shade half of those required checkmarks. Coming off his highest usage rate ever at 27.8 percent, there’s also a concern Randle would take shots and touches away from Ayton within Monty Williams’ offense that wants to prioritize him and Booker. If Williams is able to get buy-in from Randle, then this could have a chance of succeeding with the right ingredients surrounding them.

Speaking of that defensive ceiling, Randle and Ayton along with John Collins were the only three bigs to play 30-plus minutes every night and not accumulate at least one block and steal per game. When diving in deeper, you are banking on this duo being a force scoring-wise with a lot of pick-and-roll action — an area both are well-above average in.

One aspect Randle could help, though, is his playmaking ability and overall shot creation. His ability to rebound and push the ball in transition would be a valuable tool, especially if the Suns’ starting point guard next season is more of a deferring type, with Booker as the primary ball-handler.

Immediately, Phoenix’s frontcourt would be set with Randle and Ayton. Assuming Kelly Oubre Jr. is also re-signed, he fills the starting small forward spot with Mikal Bridges as the Swiss Army knife sixth man. All three would log around 30 minutes per game in the Suns’ rotation, which could see all of the wings on the floor simultaneously when Randle takes over for Ayton in spurts as a small-ball 5.

Would you approve of the Suns pursuing Randle? Do you prefer him over other starting power forward options like Nikola Mirotic, Al-Farouq Aminu and Thaddeus Young?

Stay tuned to BSOTS, we’ll keep you updated on all the free agency rumors that connect to the Suns. This is only the first domino.

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