The Phoenix Suns haven’t traded Deandre Ayton because “there is no viable trade right now turning Ayton into the kinds of players (or picks) that would maintain or boost the Suns’ title odds,” according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.
The Suns discussed Ayton trades with the Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers but wound up keeping the former No. 1 overall pick and trading Chris Paul to the Washington Wizards for Bradley Beal instead.
“The Suns’ top priority — from Ishbia to Ayton and down to the 15th man — should be doing whatever it takes to repair their relationship with Ayton, to lift him back up,” Lowe wrote. “The Suns’ likely path toward a good-enough defense is switching a ton across the perimeter while keeping Ayton closer to the paint as the last line.”
Ayton averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season while shooting 58.9% from the field and 76.0% from the free-throw line. The Arizona product recorded 36 double-doubles in 67 games.
However, Ayton’s level of play declined in the 2023 playoffs. The big man averaged 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 10 games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. Ayton put up 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in the Nuggets series and didn’t register a positive plus-minus rating in any contest.
The Suns lost to the Nuggets in the conference semifinals in six games. Ayton didn’t play in Game 6 due to a rib contusion he suffered in Game 5 and was heavily criticized by Phoenix fans.
Deandre Ayton Admits He Can ‘Feel the Whole World Hating’ Him
Ayton told Eyewitness News Bahamas in July, “I can feel the whole world hating me in a way. I’m the guy a lot of people point at and I see it and feel it, but mainly what I’ve been working on five to six days a week since we’ve lost is just motivating myself to change the narrative of what people think about me.
“No matter how you put it, I feel like I have no fans out there and I can feel it because the whole world is saying it. My goal is over the summer is to change the narrative. Just unlock whatever it is and just completely just focus on me and change the whole thing.”
Ayton didn’t have a positive relationship with former Suns head coach Monty Williams. Phoenix’s front office believes new head coach Frank Vogel will be able to connect with Ayton better than Williams did and help the Nassau native be more engaged on both ends of the court on a more consistent basis.
Anonymous Member of Suns Breaks Silence on Deandre Ayton’s Future
“He’s going to play a key role for us this year as the backline of our defense. And we’ll make sure he gets enough touches on offense to keep him involved on that end too. It’s not just going to be him living off screens and offensive rebounds,” the anonymous source told Smith.
Ayton tried to leave the Suns last offseason by signing a four-year, $132.9 million offer sheet with the Pacers in restricted free agency. However, Phoenix matched Indiana’s offer sheet.