3 key moves the Phoenix Suns need to make at the NBA Trade Deadline 

The Phoenix Suns are 25-18, winners of six in a row, and finally making good on their preseason promise. These are three key moves they need to make at the trade deadline to seal the deal.

Charlotte Hornets v Phoenix Suns
Charlotte Hornets v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The Phoenix Suns entered the 2023-24 season with championship aspirations after their mid-season acquisition of Kevin Durant in 2022-23 ultimately saw them fall short. The combination of Durant and Devin Booker gave them one of the best duos in the league, but unsatisfied with their roster, the Suns shipped out Chris Paul for Bradley Beal and Deandre Ayton for Jusuf Nurkic and Grayson Allen in the summer. 

However, the Suns’ bet on a big three of Booker, Beal, and Durant didn’t pay immediate dividends. Beal only played in six of their first 30 games due to injury, and the Suns limped to an uninspiring 15-15 record.  With Beal finally healthy, the Suns have gone 10-3 over their past 13 games, winning six in a row, and have posted an offensive rating of 122.5 and a net rating of plus-6.1 over the stretch. 

It took a while, but the Suns look like the championship contender they envisioned in the summer. Although they're playing exceptionally well. They're not a roster without flaws.

The Suns’ three biggest needs

The Suns’ biggest needs ahead of the trade deadline are finding a real two-way player on the wing, improving their rebounding, and adding some point guard depth. Grayson Allen has been incredible this season, he’s shooting a blazing 50.7 percent from the field and 49.1 percent from 3, but he’s not a defensive stopper. The Suns have wings, but they’re all one-way players. One solid two-way wing could go a long way for them in the playoffs and lineup versatility. 

The Suns have been a good offensive-rebounding team, their 25.5 percent offensive rebound percentage ranks 12th, but their 75.1 percent defensive rebound rate ranks 20th. Jusuf Nurkic is a great rebounder, but their defensive rebounding rate craters a dramatic 6.1 percent from 77.8 percent to 71.7 percent with him on the bench. With Nurkic on the court, the Suns’ defensive rebounding rate would rank second in the league, and with him on the bench, it would rank second to last. 

Moving Devin Booker to point guard has paid off for the Suns. He’s averaging 26.7 points, 7.6 assists, and only 2.8 turnovers per game, and the Suns have a sterling 122.5 offensive rating with him on the court. However, when Booker sits, the Suns offense collapses to a 112.4 offensive rating, and their turnover rate balloons to an unfathomable 16.7 percent. The Timberwolves have the highest turnover rate in the league at 14.0 percent. 

The Suns are well into the luxury tax and have next to zero assets to move. All of their tradable first-round picks were used to land Kevin Durant, and all of their potential swaps were used to acquire Bradley Beal. The Suns even traded swaps of swaps to make moves this offseason. 

The Suns have also traded away all of their second-round picks but have five incoming between 2024 and 2028. With limited assets to move and significant holes to fill, the Suns need to be creative in trades and aggressive in the buyout market. These are three key moves the Suns need to make at the NBA trade deadline. 

3. Trade for Andre Drummond to fix their rebounding

If you have a rebounding problem in your neighborhood, who should you call? Andre Drummond, of course. In a bygone era, Drummond was once a promising young center on the strength of his rebounding. As front offices have shifted away from devoting significant resources to rebound monsters, Drummond has settled in as an excellent backup center in Chicago. 

On a per-36-minute basis, Drummond’s 19.0 rebounds lead the league by a comical 3.3 margin this season. His 36.3 percent defensive rebound rate, 22.4 percent offensive rebounding rate, and 29.2 percent total rebounding rate all lead the league for players who have played 500 or more minutes. There’s a very straightforward case Drummond is the best rebounder in the league, and he should be in the conversation as one of the greatest rebounders ever when factoring in the era. 

Plucking Drummond from Chicago and placing him on Phoenix’s bench would do wonders for their rebounding. He’s capable enough to play with the starters and is potentially a defensive upgrade over Nurkic. The Suns, with Drummond, would be one of the best rebounding teams in the league, and he could take one of their few weaknesses and turn it into a real strength. While rebounding isn’t sexy or headline-grabbing, Pat Riley didn’t say, “No rebounds. No rings,” for no reason.   

Drummond is on a $3.3 million expiring contract, which gives the Suns a multitude of ways of acquiring him. A few of their second-round picks or a straight swap of Nassir Little should be enough. Chicago should be looking to sell, and getting something of value for Drummond would be a good place to start. He’s a solid backup big, but despite being the best rebounder in the league, he hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2020-21. The Bulls holding onto Drummond through the deadline wouldn’t be a total shocker, but the Suns shouldn’t let the Bulls’ institutional failings stop their pursuit.