The Suns, who lost to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals, are expected to aggressively explore the trade market for Ayton this offseason.
“Sources told ESPN that Ayton’s teammates have shared their coach’s frustration with what they perceive to be inconsistent effort and aggression from the 7-footer,” MacMahon reported. “Ayton would be excited about a fresh start with another franchise, sources told ESPN. The Suns are expected to aggressively explore the trade market for him this summer, league sources said. Although Ayton had a disappointing series against Denver — getting benched down the stretch of the Suns’ Game 3 win and frequently dominated by two-time MVP center Nikola Jokic — league sources expect several teams to show interest in acquiring the 24-year-old, who averaged 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game this season.”
Ayton tried to leave the Suns last offseason by signing a four-year, $132.9 million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers in restricted free agency. However, Phoenix matched Indiana’s offer sheet.
Ayton, 24, averaged 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds during the regular season, but his numbers dipped in the postseason to 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds. The former No. 1 overall pick 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 game.
Are There Any Teams Interested in Deandre Ayton?
Heavy Sports insider Sean Deveney is reporting that the Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets could be interested in trading for Ayton, who has career averages of 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds.
“It’s almost certain they will look into trading him. I think they feel like they can do all right with a mishmash of decent centers and changing their focus on getting better talent around those two star guys,” one NBA GM told Heavy Sports. “That’s been true for the past couple of years, really. Deandre has butted heads with Monty. But he can be a great player, still, it just needs to be somewhere else. It is a tough market for trading centers, though. They are about to find that out. The team that might be the most interesting getting into that mix is Chicago, and I’ve heard he’s on the list, at least. A lot still depends on the (draft) lottery.”
Ayton will make $32.5 million next season. He turns 25 in July.
“Another possibility mentioned prominently: Portland, depending on what the Blazers wind up doing with Jusuf Nurkic, including perhaps putting him in a deal for Ayton,” Deveney wrote. “The Suns lack the young assets and draft picks (zero first-rounders available) to earnestly talk trade for Blazers star Damian Lillard, but they could be part of a wider deal that includes Ayton if a Lillard trade becomes a mega-swap.
“The Hornets also garnered a mention, as the Suns have had interest in point guard Terry Rozier as a potential Paul successor. The Suns were rumored to have interest in guard Fred VanVleet, but that would require an Ayton trade and the Raptors seem to have settled on Jakob Poeltl as their center going forward.”
Deandre Ayton: I Love Phoenix
Ayton told reporters during his end-of-the-season press conference that he loves playing for the Suns. However, that doesn’t mean much since players rarely tell the honest truth during press conferences when it comes to trades.
“Man, I love Phoenix,” Ayton said. “Honestly, I’m going to continue playing hard for Phoenix and keep repping Phoenix like I’ve always been repping Phoenix and that’s about it. I don’t listen to the outside noise. I’m here. I’m happy.”