There is a lot to unpack after the blockbuster trade that saw the Phoenix Suns part ways with Deandre Ayton in exchange for Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic. Following the trade, most sportsbooks still have the Suns among the favorites to win the NBA title this season, despite parting ways with their number one overall pick. And even after a busy offseason for the Suns’ front office, Jake L. Fischer of Yahoo Sports believes that there could be more moves in the cards for Phoenix.
“The Suns, at this early juncture, are expected to waive Johnson and Ish Wainright, league sources told Yahoo Sports,” Fischer writes.
“Phoenix included second-round pick Toumani Camara with its outgoing package in part to maintain the roster flexibility for Jordan Goodwin, the only point guard on the Suns’ roster and a close friend of Bradley Beal’s following their season together in Washington.”
Suns View Ayton Trade as ‘Addition by Subtraction’
Swapping Ayton to land Nurkic was a head-scratcher. Especially because Phoenix, at least initially, looks like they got the short end of the deal. Ayton is younger, faster, and more athletic than Nurkic.
But his last two seasons with the Suns have been unfavorable. At times, his dejection affected his play on the court and contributed to the Suns’ back-to-back exits in the second round of the playoffs in 2022 and 2023.
Although the Suns may have received arguably the least talented player involved in the three-team blockbuster, Fischer says that the franchise views it as a move that will help them this season and beyond.
“Phoenix surely looks at the departure of Ayton as addition by subtraction, not to mention the added depth to a roster that was full of four hefty contracts and minimum deals,” Fischer added.
“The fissures between Ayton and Suns personnel began under former coach Monty Williams, sources said, and seemed headed for further frustrations as the former No. 1 pick was undoubtedly headed to a more limited role behind Beal, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant.”
Frank Vogel Was Optimistic About Ayton’s Potential
Monty Williams and Ayton had been at odds since the 2022 season. But after the team parted ways with the head coach and hired Frank Vogel, some were optimistic about the former top pick having a turnaround season in 2024. That was because Vogel has experience tapping into the potential of centers with raw talent.
During his time as coach of the Indiana Pacers, center Roy Hibbert made the NBA All-Defensive team and was named an All-Star twice. When Vogel was head coach of the Lakers, he helped Anthony Davis take the leap defensively that helped him win the only title of his career.
Before Ayton got traded to the Blazers, Vogel said he believed the Suns’ starting center could be one of the elite big men in the NBA.
“I think he can be one of the best centers in the league. I think he’s shown that at times throughout his career, and I know he showed that when we played him in the playoffs a couple of years back and he shot about 80% from the field and deterred every drive, every cut, every effort to attack the basket,” Vogel said.
“He can be a big-time deterrent. There are still areas in which he can grow offensively. But I’m intent on really connecting with him and restoring him to an all-star level player.”