When Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon becomes a free agent this offseason, several teams around the league will have interest in him.
Gordon, 22, is considered perhaps the best young talent who will be on the market as an available asset. Sean Deveney wrote about a few of the teams that will likely be in play (via Sporting News):
“League sources told Sporting News this week that the Suns are expected to be suitors for Gordon, who starred at Arizona for one memorable season. Phoenix has ample cap room and a roster in need of more proven players. Another team with interest in Gordon, according to sources, would be the rebuilding Mavericks, who have been eager to find a budding star to fill in alongside Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr., softening the blow of Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement, which could come in just months. The Pacers intend to investigate restricted free agents, too, hoping to add young talent to an improving roster.”
The former No. 4 overall pick has a cap hold of $16.5 million this offseason. Here are the three teams that have been linked to the 6-foot-9 forward and how he would fit with each system.
According to DallasBasketball.com, the Magic and Mavs discussed trades before the deadline.
Perhaps there could be another way to get Gordon in Dallas this offseason. The Mavericks are one of the teams who will have the most available cap space this offseason.
Dennis Smith Jr. is a great young player to build around and Dallas will assuredly have another high lottery pick to add to their core as well. If they added Gordon to the mix, it wouldn’t put them in instant contention because the Western Conference is loaded with talent.
But they’d be in great shape for the future of the franchise with three young pieces – and that’s not including Harrison Barnes, who is still just 25.
No team in the league has been more efficient when cutting to the basket than Dallas (1.40 points per possession) this year. Gordon is one of the seven most efficient players (1.54 PPP) on cuts this season among those with as many opportunities, trailing players like LeBron James and Jimmy Butler.
The only teams that have run an isolation offense more often than the Mavericks (10.0 percent) so far this season are the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Gordon was the most efficient player in the league on isolation plays (1.15 PPP) among those with as many possessions last season.
Dallas should have between $25 million and $30 million in cap space this offseason without upcoming free agents Josh McRoberts, Nerlens Noel as well as Doug McDermott, Seth Curry and Salah Mejri no longer with the franchise.
With the addition of a player like Gordon, the Suns would suddenly have one of the best young cores in basketball. It would be fascinating to see Gordon join his former teammate Elfrid Payton in Phoenix.
Devin Booker is on pace to become an elite player on offense and Josh Jackson (who has improved quite a bit on offense recently) are both fantastic players but neither provide what Gordon could for the team. The forward is a legitimate complementary asset for the fast-paced squad.
This season, the Suns have the second-worst efficiency (0.80 PPP) in the Western Conference on isolation-based plays. This is an area where Gordon could provide immediate relief.
The only team who has had more putback possessions than Phoenix (6.1 percent) is the Thunder. Gordon is particularly efficient on this play type. With the Suns, he would likely have lots of opportunities to continue his success.
It’s unclear if they would have to offer him a max deal or if they could perhaps even pursue a sign-and-trade with the Magic, offering some young talent like Marquese Chriss or Alex Len.
They will have around $22.5M in cap room before bringing back Payton or Len, which could be just enough to bring in someone like Gordon with some slight changes to their roster.
Deveney had also linked Gordon to Indiana in a different story earlier this month (via Sporting News):
“Front-office executives around the league expect that the Pacers will be a player on the restricted free-agent market this summer, where some talented players could be the victims of a league-wide financial squeeze. That would allow Indiana to bring in talent at a reduced cost. Aaron Gordon [is among the] bigger names expected to draw interest from the Pacers … The Pacers were active at the trade deadline, seeking to leverage their cap room as part of three-way trades, willing to take on a bad salary in exchange for draft picks. Nothing panned out, but they will continue to explore using their cap room in trades at the draft and during this summer.”
Even if it means acquiring him in a sign-and-trade, the idea of Gordon playing alongside Indiana’s Victor Oladipo should excite fans around the league.
If they had that kind of athleticism in Oladipo and Gordon, the Pacers would become one of the most electrifying young rosters in their conference.
On the court, he is also an interesting fit. Indiana has cutters to the basket (5.6 percent) less often than every other team in the East. This is exactly where Gordon has thrived on the offensive side of the ball.
Indiana could have enough cap space to sign Gordon if they waived Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison or Al Jefferson and that’s even if Thaddeus Young and Cory Joseph are re-signed.