Can the Suns find their Aaron Gordon in New York?

The Phoenix Suns need to find their Aaron Gordon to become true contenders, and they may just find him in New York.
New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets
New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

There is no doubt that the Phoenix Suns haven't quite been the same since they traded away Mikal Bridges in the deal that got them Kevin Durant. The two-way star coming to personify all that there was to like about the 2021 version of this team, one that made it all the way to the NBA Finals.

In many ways Bridges was the Aaron Gordon of that Suns group. A guy you didn't need to run many plays for, and who connected the stars in Chris Paul and Devin Booker, to the rest of the roster. The Denver Nuggets getting Gordon from the Orlando Magic back in 2021 was potentially the most important trade of this decade so far. The Nuggets won a championship, and may not be done yet.

It is on the Suns then to find their version of Gordon, and could it be that he is in New York just waiting to be picked up to change their fortunes?

It would be a nice, full circle moment if Bridges was that guy. Now the best player on the Brooklyn Nets, there are plenty of teams who would love to have him on their team, the Suns surely being one of them. But instead we need to turn our attention to the New York Knicks, and a player who isn't even playing for them right now.

Despite potentially being a conference finalist, they have managed to get that far with a group that has captured the imagination of many NBA fans this offseason. The key player absent from this run? Julius Randle of course, the oftentimes dour-faced individual whose hulking presence inside the paint was exactly what the Knicks needed earlier in the season.

It is clear his current team have outgrown him, and he could be ready for a new role elsewhere. He may never be an All-Star level player again - although he was playing like it for parts of last season - although he is still only 29-years-old and the dislocated shoulder suffered in January isn't going to hold him out next season.

But if he were to join the Suns, all of a sudden he could occupy the exact spot that Gordon does when playing with Nikola Jokic. That is to hang around the dunker's spot, and occasionally match up with bigger players in the paint. The key difference here though, is that Randle is a bigger player than Gordon - less athletic as well - although he is arguably more skilled with ball in hand.

He has averaged over 20 points per game in his last four seasons in the league, so from an offensive standpoint he'd fit right in with new head coach Mike Budenholzer. Defensively he'd be an upgrade over everybody on the roster, certainly he is leagues better than starting center Jusuf Nurkic. The point here though is that the Suns need to change their roster, and Randle could be the solution.

The best part of this is that - because of the contracts of Randle and the Suns' top three players - a trade is actually possible as well. Despite the Suns being over the second apron they could send one of Durant or Bradley Beal to the Knicks for Randle and center Mitchell Robinson. It sounds outrageous to consider Durant, but we've already had some smoke there.

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The front office would also have to convince Beal to waive his no-trade clause to move back East, but this isn't exactly a hard sell. Live in New York and play for a contender? It's a no-brainer. In return the Suns would get their third guy - and unlike with the trio they currently have - Randle would be that bridge between stars and rest of the roster.

They might even get a pick out of the Knicks, while Mitchell alone is an upgrade over Nurkic anyway. The Suns need to do something drastic to find that missing piece - the roster as constructed is just off in that regard - and Randle is now surely available. A fresh start for the powerful forward as the missing piece for a contender in The Valley could be just what he needs.