Latest mock trade sees Jusuf Nurkic head to West rival

One of the only ways for the Phoenix Suns to improve is through trading Jusuf Nurkic, and the latest mock trade from Sports Illustrated does just that.
New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns
New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

It is no secret that one of the only ways the Phoenix Suns can realistically improve their roster this offseason is by trading center Jusuf Nurkic. The big man making the kind of money (two years, $37 million remaining on his current deal) that is quite easy to trade, even for an organization like the Suns that are in the second apron.

The harder part is finding fair value for him at a time when the Suns need to do everything in their power to try and win a championship. Luckily for the front office, Nurkic went some way to repairing his trade value with a consistent regular season in which he appeared in all but six games and averaged 10.9 points and 11 rebounds. The playoffs though, were unfortunately another story.

Finding a trade partner for Nurkic is difficult, but the latest mock trade involving the player from Sports Illustrated is one for the Suns to really think about.

It was less than a year ago that the franchise turned former first overall pick Deandre Ayton into Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson. Underwhelming at the time, but a trade that had to be done and probably did work out. Allen was signed to a new four year, $70 million deal prior to the postseason starting, so he'll stick around for now. But what about this for Nurkic?

Nurkic Pelicans

Coming at this from the perspective of the New Orleans Pelicans to begin with, and their starting center Jonas Valanciunas will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. If they don't want to bring him back on a new and potentially expensive deal, that could instead trade for Nurkic (who could provide about 70 percent of what Valanciunas does) and get a first round pick as well.

It is a bit more complicated for the Suns, although adding two players in Larry Nance Jr. and Dyson Daniels to fill out a thin roster beyond their top four or five guys certainly sounds nice. Nance Jr. could replace most of the Nurkic minutes anyway - and although he generally spends more time at the four - he would be a nice backup for Kevin Durant as well.

This would mean the Suns couldn't draft a young center this summer - as many have predicted they will if they keep the 22nd pick - but a combination of Nance Jr., Durant and Bol Bol if he returns would not be a bad place to start. From there they could ditch Drew Eubanks, and take a chance on one of the other tried and tested bigs who will be available for the minimum.

The addition of Daniels would be intriguing one, as it is not often the Suns get the opportunity to add a 21-year-old point guard to their ranks. The career of Daniels so far has been underwhelming, but he has two year's experience in the league at such a young age and playing what is the most difficult position to learn.

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Taking a chance on him now could pay off in a big way - and although he has only started 27 regular season games out of 120 played - he has been a part of a Pelicans organization that is trying to win. To be able to flip Nurkic into another big who could help them win is reason enough to consider this, but adding a floor general who would have no problem coming off the bench is hard to turn down.

There's every chance Daniels could thrive in The Valley - but with the Suns needing a point guard on this roster anyway - they could do a lot worse than add one who could be around for years to come. Yes losing the pick hurts, but how much could that really help them try and win a championship in the next couple of years anyway? This is definitely one worth considering.