Why Suns Should - And Shouldn't - Trade Jusuf Nurkic

The Phoenix Suns' big man is the center of many rumors.
Apr 23, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic (20) celebrates his basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second quarter during game two of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic (20) celebrates his basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second quarter during game two of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports / Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
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The Phoenix Suns are going to have a unique opportunity to continue moving forward with a star-laden core that fell well short of the ultimate goal in 2023-24.

While the overall makeup of the roster should remain the same, Jusuf Nurkic could be on the move due to his relatively short contract length, reliability as a starter, and potential salary that can be matched in a trade.

While it wouldn't be ideal to part with Nurkic, there certainly are reasons as to why a trade should be explored at the very least.

Pro: Could Find Better Fit At C

While Nurkic was largely a dependable starter in his debut season in Phoenix, he doesn't bring consistent floor spacing nor versatility on the defensive side of the ball.

The Suns moving off of Nurkic could open up the possibility of ushering in a new center rotation for next season - such as the one right here.

Moving on from Nurkic wouldn't be the easiest decision, but it could be a necessity to improve the construction around the Suns' trio of star players.

Con: Likely Losing Connectivity

For every piece of criticism Suns fans put forth pertaining to Nurkic, one thing that should absolutely be lauded is his ability as a passer and secondary connector in the offense.

Nurkic is certainly one of the most skilled passers at the five in the league - his unique combination of court vision and precision can help the offense in a vacuum, especially without a true "table-setter."

Replacing Nurkic with a big rotation piece such as Goga Bitadze and a rookie big for example, would be a trade off.

In this case, the Suns would be sacrificing that connectivity factor for things such as versatility on defense and shooting.

It would hurt to lose the ability to run some offense through a big, but it could end up being a necessity.

Pro: Could Improve Overall Rotation

In the linked exercise above, we traded Nurkic to the Sacramento Kings for Harrison Barnes.

This very well may not come to fruition, but it is just an example of the possibilities the Suns could encounter if they made a move.

Kevin Durant could play a more natural position with an acquisition such as Barnes, and the Suns could utilize well calculated minimum contracts, along with this potential draft pick, to better shape the rotation around its core.

Con: Losing Physicality

Once again, this could be an ultimate trade-off more than a con, but a center rotation of Bitadze and a rookie, as aforementioned, would be sacrificing at least a little from a physicality standpoint.

Bitadze has a strong track record of contesting shot at the rim and blocking shots, but his ability as a rebounder has been a frequent topic of conversation.

The only rookie the Suns could draft that would be a "slam dunk" physical force from day one is Yves Missi - and he is the most raw of the bunch as a prospect.

Pro: Can Run More Five-Out

A departure of Nurkic would give coach Mike Budenholzer much more flexibility to run five-out lineups in spurts - as he obviously loved doing in Milwaukee behind the big man duo of Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis.

A five-out lineup of (for example) Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Grayson Allen, Barnes, and Durant could be lethal from behind the arc.

The Suns having the same level of flexibility as Milwaukee did could end up being a huge factor in unlocking an offense that is seething with potential.

Con: Rebounding Will Suffer

As mentioned above, this could be an ultimate sacrifice.

Nurkic is one of the best rebounders in the association, and choosing to depart with him could result in the Suns' rebounding attack being much more of a team effort compared to even last season.

Durant, Booker, and even Grayson Allen thankfully spent much of last season bought in on the concept of team rebounding and hopefully it can carry over into next season - even if Nurkic does return.

As we all know, every action has a consequence, good or bad, and there are very strong points on both sides of this conversation.

Ultimately, more will be known about Nurkic's fate in the Valley over the coming weeks.


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Kevin Hicks

KEVIN HICKS