Yellow Star
Yellow Star

Suns may trade a veteran for the No. 8 pick to make room for Ayton

Despite a disappointing season, the Phoenix Suns allegedly want to keep Deandre Ayton.

According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, the Suns are interested in purchasing the No. 8 selection in the 2022 NBA draught from the New Orleans Pelicans and could include Cameron Johnson to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Ayton.

Nine Suns players are owed $129.2 million next season. Team governor Robert Sarver is willing to pay the luxury tax if they can win a title.

Over the past two seasons, Ayton has been a vital player for Phoenix. The 23-year-old was great defensively in 2021, helping the Suns reach the NBA Finals.

Ayton helped the Suns have the NBA's best record in 2021-22. (64-18). Basketball Reference says he averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 105 defensive rating in 58 starts.

Phoenix's dream season ended in the Western Conference Semifinals against Dallas. Before losing in seven games, the team led 2-0 and 3-2.

Ayton just played 17 minutes in Game 7 as the Suns lost 123-90 at home. Monty Williams said "it's internal" why his young centre didn't play more.

Last offseason, Ayton could sign an extension. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said that the Suns didn't want to offer Ayton a rookie max deal of at least $172.5 million over five years.

The Suns were open to a three- or four-year max deal, but they never had "serious conversations," according to GM James Jones.

Suns may make Ayton a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer. This would allow them to match any offer sheet he receives from an opposing club.

Ayton could sign a $16.4 million qualifying offer, finish the 2022-23 season with Phoenix, and become a free agent next summer. This offseason, he might sign a long-term deal with the Suns.