“Let me address some of the Deandre Ayton rumors,” Gambadoro posted September 21 on X, formerly Twitter. “The Suns have not been willing to move [Ayton] all summer because they think he fits well and there were no offers that would change that. If Nurkic was on the table I would be surprised if the Suns didn’t look into it because an argument could be made that is an upgrade for Phx.”
Gambadoro noted that the scenario was contingent on Portland dealing away superstar Damian Lillard, who has requested a trade.
Nurkic, 29, signed a four-year, $70 million deal with the Blazers in July 2022. He’ll make $16.9 million next season. The veteran center averaged 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds last season while shooting 51.9% from the field, 36.1% from beyond the arc and 66.1% from the free-throw line. He has career averages of 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds with the Denver Nuggets and Blazers.
In this scenario, the Suns could start Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Josh Okogie, Kevin Durant and Nurkic under new head coach Frank Vogel if Phoenix’s front office figured out a way to acquire Nurkic from Portland.
Suns Could Help Facilitate Damian Lillard, James Harden Trade: Report
“According to multiple sources who spoke to PHNX Sports’ Flex from Jersey, trade talks from the most active teams — Philadelphia, Miami and Portland, as well as the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls — are heating up … and many of them view the Suns as a team that could push a potential blockbuster deal across the finish line,” Bourguet wrote on September 21. “While the Suns lack the assets and/or contracts to trade for Lillard or Harden themselves, one source referred to the Suns as a ‘mystery team’ in regards to their potential involvement. Another called them a ‘dark horse’ to help facilitate a deal as an additional party.
“Talks are heating up around the league with teams like Portland, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago and Toronto all very active right now. The Suns could be the mystery team needed to get some of these deals done per my conversations. With camp weeks away, things could get interesting!”
Lillard wants the Blazers to trade him to the Miami Heat, while Harden wants the Sixers to send him to the Los Angeles Clippers. Neither Harden nor Lillard can control where they go since they don’t have no-trade clauses in their contracts.
Mavericks Made ‘Underwhelming Offer’ to Suns for Deandre Ayton: Report
“That leaves Deandre Ayton, who’s been the subject of trade speculation off and on for years now,” Bourguet wrote. “One source told PHNX Sports that the Dallas Mavericks made an underwhelming offer for Ayton over the summer, and ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported in May that Ayton would be ‘excited about a fresh start with another franchise’ following the Suns’ second-round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.”
Ayton averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season while shooting 58.9% from the floor and 76.0% from the foul line. The Arizona product recorded 36 double-doubles in 67 games.
However, Ayton’s level of play declined in the 2023 playoffs. He averaged 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 10 games versus the Clippers and Nuggets. Ayton put up 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in the Nuggets series and didn’t record a positive plus-minus rating in any contest.
The Suns lost to the Nuggets in the second round of the postseason in six games.