The Phoenix Suns now trail 0-2 in their best-of-seven series with the top-seeded Denver Nuggets. They will now head back home to try to avoid going down 0-3, a deficit that no team in NBA history has been able to overcome.
If the Suns can’t dig themselves out of their hole, the franchise could go in a different direction, including trading center Deandre Ayton, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic.
“League sources, when asked for reasons that the Mavericks’ planned restructuring this summer could work, point to the league-wide expectation that there may be significant player movement from a number of contending hopefuls,” Cato wrote in a May 1 story. “Some names that have been floated as possibilities include the Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton. But whether either party has mutual interest, or whether Dallas has the resources to acquire them, won’t be answered until this summer.”
Devin Booker Reacts to Chris Paul Injury
The Suns went into Game 2 in Denver, looking to avenge themselves from their Game 1 blowout loss and head back to Phoenix with the series tied at 1. But the Nuggets showed why they held the top seed in the Western Conference for the last several months as they came up with the 97-87 victory.
To add injury to insult, Suns starting point guard Chris Paul went down with a hamstring injury and did not return, leaving his status for the pivotal Game 3, on May 5, in the air. The Suns said Paul was day to day, but The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the Suns “are preparing to be without Paul” for Games 3 and 4, as well as Game 5, if it’s necessary.
After the loss, Booker said while the Suns are hopeful that Paul has a speedy recovery, they have to focus on the task at hand.
“All we can do is hope he has a speedy recovery. We’re going to be behind him. We’re going to hold it down while he is out, or if he’s out, and just take it from there,” Booker said after the Game 2 loss.
“I mean, the playoffs are a lot. A lot comes with this. So, you just have to embrace it. Embrace the challenge. Embrace the opportunity that we have right now, even down 0-2. Get back home, protect our home court, and go from there. But a lot is on all of our plates and that’s everybody throughout the playoffs right now.”
Kyrie Irving’s Future in Dallas Uncertain
The Mavericks swung for the fences at the trade deadline, pushing all their chips to the middle to land star point guard Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal. Irving didn’t come cheap. Dallas had to part ways with two of their key players, Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie, in the deal.
The Mavericks were looking to bolster a roster that got to the Western Conference Finals last season, but that plan backfired on them tremendously. They plummeted in the standing after the Irving trade and did not even qualify for the play-in tournament. To make matters worse, they traded for Irving without a long-term commitment, knowing he could become a free agent this summer. What was once a possibility has become a reality.
“Irving’s offseason desires are less clear — he declined to speak to the media after the season’s final game and hasn’t spoken publicly since — even if it remains likeliest, he returns,” Cato added.
“The uncertainty around Irving comes during an offseason where it’s expected that every player under contract — other than Doncic, of course — could be available in trade discussions as well as the team’s 10th selection, which Dallas has a 79.8 percent chance to retain at the league’s draft lottery on May 16.”
If Irving did decide to move on from the Mavs, one option could be in Phoenix. In March ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said there is a “chance” the Suns could pull off a sign and trade to land Irving this offseason. It would reunite him with his former Nets co-star Kevin Durant, making the fit seamless. And with Paul’s injury liability becoming an issue again in these playoffs and a new owner in Matt Ishbia, it may be time for Phoenix to upgrade the point guard spot.