The Phoenix Suns were “very interested” in acquiring six-time All-Star and NBA champion Kyle Lowry from the Miami Heat in a multi-team Damian Lillard trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.
The Blazers wound up trading Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Suns sent Deandre Ayton to the Blazers for Jusuf Nurkic.
Lowry will make $29.7 million in 2023-24 in the final year of the three-year, $85 million contract he signed with the Heat in 2021. The former Toronto Raptors star averaged 11.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists last season in 55 games while shooting 40.4% from the field, 34.5% from beyond the arc and 85.9% from the free-throw line.
The Suns could have used Lowry’s services since they don’t have a traditional point guard on the roster after trading Chris Paul to the Washington Wizards and Cameron Payne to the San Antonio Spurs this offseason. Phoenix is expected to start Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Josh Okogie, Kevin Durant and Nurkic in 2023-24.
Various Suns Figures Were Eager to Trade Deandre Ayton: Report
Various Suns figures were eager to trade Ayton, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Ayton finished his Phoenix career with averages of 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds in 303 games.
“Phoenix leadership was not sold on Ayton’s consistency and ability to impact winning amid this franchise’s expensive title chase,” Fischer wrote. “Various Suns figures were eager for a change of direction, sources said, from players to front office members, despite new coach Frank Vogel’s opportunity to mold Ayton into a defensive anchor.”
Sam Amick of The Athletic also reported that Suns owner Mat Ishbia was “very involved” in the Ayton trade.
“As has been the case since he bought the team in February, Mat Ishbia, I’m told, was very involved in this deal,” Amick wrote. “Phoenix not only wanted more depth, but also players who they believed were a better fit for their Devin Booker-Kevin Durant-Bradley Beal trio. Nurkic, the 29-year-old big man who is signed through the 2025-26 campaign, was a longtime target on that front, who they’re thrilled to have landed.”
Ayton averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season while shooting 58.9% from the field. The Arizona product recorded 36 double-doubles in 67 games.
Ayton’s level of play dropped in the 2023 playoffs. He averaged 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 10 games versus the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. Ayton, 25, 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 Western Conference semifinals in six games.
Jusuf Nurkic Averaged 13.3 Points & 9.1 Rebounds Last Season
Nurkic signed a four-year, $70 million contract with the Blazers in July 2022. He’ll make $16.9 million in 2023-24. The veteran big man 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.
The 29-year-old Nurkic has career averages of 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in 463 games with the Nuggets and Blazers.
After trading Ayton and acquiring Nurkic, the Suns’ roster looks like this: Beal, Saben Lee, Jordan Goodwin, Booker, Eric Gordon, Keon Johnson, Damion Lee, Okogie, Grayson Allen, Keita Bates-Diop, Durant, Nassir Little, Yuta Watanabe, Nurkic, Drew Eubanks, Bol Bol.