The Suns decided not to trade Ayton this summer despite having trade talks with the Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers.
“We’re committed to Deandre,” the anonymous member of the Suns said. “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.”
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. He recorded 36 double-doubles and helped Phoenix win 45 games in the regular season.
However, Ayton’s level of play dropped in the 2023 playoffs. The center averaged 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 10 games versus the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. Ayton put up only 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in the Nuggets series and didn’t register a positive plus-minus rating in any game.
The Suns lost to the Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Semifinals in six games. Ayton didn’t play in Game 6 due to a rib contusion he suffered in Game 5.
Deandre Ayton Admits He Can ‘Feel the Whole World Hating’ Him
Ayton told Eyewitness News Bahamas that he can feel “the whole world hating” him. The big man was criticized by many Suns fans after the Nuggets series.
“I can feel the whole world hating me in a way,” Ayton said. “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 good relationship with former Suns head coach Monty Williams. Phoenix’s front office feels new head coach Frank Vogel will be able to connect with Ayton better than Williams did and help the Arizona product be more engaged on both ends of the floor on a consistent basis.
Suns Won’t Trade for James Harden, Paul George
Harden opted into his 2023-24 player option with the Sixers and requested a trade. However, the Suns will not be trading for the 2017-18 MVP.
The Suns also never discussed trading for Clippers forward Paul George, according to Gambadoro. Phoenix hired Vogel, who coached George on the Pacers, as its new head coach. There had been speculation that Vogel wanted to reunite with George since the two are close.
However, the Suns won’t be trading for George.