When the Suns acquired Jared Dudley with a five-player trade in December 2008, Jason Richardson was the target and the prize while Dudley was considered a trade accessory.

He proved to be the best part of the deal that sent Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to Charlotte.

Steve Kerr, then the Suns general manager, introduced him as “Mr. Dudley” and he emerged with braids and an undefined physique.

“We feel like we’re getting an impact player and somebody who is going to impact our future,” Kerr said at the time.

He was not talking about Richardson. He was dead-on about Dudley, who became an essential player, popular teammate and a fan favorite over nearly five seasons with the Suns. Dudley even helped the Suns in his departure that benefited him just as much as Phoenix. His good-value contract and team-oriented style made him attractive to the Los Angeles Clippers so that the Suns could acquire Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler while also sending a second-round draft pick to Milwaukee.

“If you get traded from Phoenix, 90 percent of the situations aren’t going to be as good as far as the city, the fans or the franchise,” Dudley said. “But this is a great situation for me. I think the Suns benefit too, getting Eric Bledsoe and becoming more athletic in their rebuilding.”

Dudley’s arrival in Phoenix was mutually beneficial. It was awful initially. Dudley was not playing for then-coach Terry Porter and joked one day about an Amar’e Stoudemire trade rumor, by saying, “Can I go with him?” Soon after, Porter was fired and Alvin Gentry took over and his first order of business was to give Dudley a rotation role.

Dudley’s court savvy kept him on the floor, bringing effort, intelligence and those “athletic hands” to the defense and 3-point shooting and smart play to the offense, which also was graded with those occasional rim-skimming dunks from a 6-foot-7 wing with a horizontal game.

The influence of Steve Nash and Grant Hill helped Dudley become a fitter player and his scoring and rebounding averages improved annually over his first four Phoenix seasons. He was key to the bench’s chemistry on the 2010 Western Conference finals team, from which only Channing Frye now remains.