The Phoenix Suns have a new owner and a new head coach. But NBA rumors say that won’t enough to smooth things over with Deandre Ayton.
After a clear rift emerged between head coach Monty Williams and star center Deandre Ayton during the 2022 playoffs, it seemed obvious that Ayton was on his way out. The Suns had played hardball with him on a max extension and Ayton was entering restricted free agency, seemingly frustrated with ownership, his coach and his role.
Ayton signed a max offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers but the Suns matched and he went back to Phoenix. Everyone said the right things but it was clear there was still a disconnect between Ayton and Williams. Now Monty Williams is out, replaced by Frank Vogel and a new owner, Mat Ishbia, is running things. But it seems like Ayton and the Suns are still destined to part.
What could the Phoenix Suns get in a trade for Deandre Ayton?
The Suns are reportedly exploring options for Chris Paul, up to and including waiving him to create additional cap space. It sounds like they’ll be exploring trade possibilities for Ayton simultaneously as the resolution of one situation could have a big effect on the other.
The Indiana Pacers, who tried to sign Ayton last summer, no longer seem like an option after having signed Myles Turner to an extension. There was some buzz about a Jordan Poole for Ayton swap after the Warriors were eliminated from the playoffs, with Poole struggling mightily. But it’s not clear how much of that buzz was actually coming from either side or just from excited fans and media members.
Two other interesting possibilities are the Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors. The Blazers are choosing between keeping the No. 3 pick or trading it to build a newly competitive core around Damian Lillard. Ayton would be an excellent pickup for them and the Suns, who also want to compete right away, could potentially try and flip the No. 3 pick to the Orlando Magic for something like Wendell Carter Jr. and the No. 6 pick. There the Suns get a new, defensive-minded center, some financial flexibility and still keep a pick in this year’s lottery.
The Raptors have reportedly shopped just about everyone and could potentially do something like a signed-and-traded Jakob Poeltl and a signed-and-traded Fred VanVleet for Ayton. (This would need to be done in two separate transactions and likely include something like Landry Shamet and Cam Payne to balance it all out).
Regardless of how the final trade shakes out, it seems like the Ayton – Suns partnership has finally run it’s course.
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