Suns strongly leaning toward keeping Deandre Ayton, despite trade buzz
Jun 25, 2023, 9:45 AM | Updated: Jun 26, 2023, 10:13 am
Offseason NBA trade buzz is as busy as bees, even when it comes to the roster of the over-the-salary cap Phoenix Suns and center Deandre Ayton.
The most recent rumors included 12-year veteran forward Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Yet, as Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro has reported in the past week, the only No. 1 pick in Suns’ franchise history will not be shown the door.
The Suns are expected to keep Ayton, as new head coach Frank Vogel is optimistic about coaching him, Gambadoro reports.
Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes backed Gambadoro’s reporting that the Suns like Ayton with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. Haynes reported Phoenix is “moving forward” with a plan to keep Ayton.
The Suns matched Ayton’s max contract offer sheet signed with the Indiana Pacers in the free agency last summer.
Ayton played 67 regular season games, averaging 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks on 58.8% shooting.
In the playoffs, he averaged 13.4 points and 9.7 boards on 55% shooting.
Ayton is set to make $32.5 million next season, with two more years on his contract after that.
As rocky as his season went, he was the most valuable asset the Suns could trade to help the team’s depth concerns, though opposing teams surely are aware of the inconsistency that has been a part of his game.
The Suns trading Chris Paul for Beal only added to the cap squeeze and heightened the expectations Phoenix could explore avenues toward an Ayton trade.
A new second tax apron that’s part of the new collective bargaining agreement will take away the Suns’ ability to use any salary exceptions above the veteran minimum, and the Suns will accept that fate for this year and more, especially if Ayton remains.
The Suns’ four max contracts add up to $161.6 million for 2023-24. The other currently rostered players get the team salaries close to the second apron at $182 million with half of the roster yet to be filled out.