Phoenix Suns could look into trade for Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic with Deandre Ayton

Sep 21, 2023, 3:13 PM | Updated: 4:07 pm

While the Phoenix Suns’ intention all summer was to not trade Deandre Ayton, an imminent Damian Lillard trade could make Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic available, something that could interest the Suns, according to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

Gambadoro adds that a Lillard trade is expected to come down within the next 24 hours. Portland previously was not interested in Ayton, but on a team without Lillard, Ayton’s potential would then be more appealing.

Nurkic, 29, averaged 13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 51.9% from the field across 52 games. He signed a four-year, $70 million extension with the Blazers last summer, meaning he has three more years left on his contract.

The 25-year-old Ayton has been actively involved in trade rumors for the past two offseasons. He is coming off a 2022-23 campaign in which he averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest and shot 58.8%.

Ayton has had his name attached to trade rumors for two straight offseasons now. A failure to reach a contract extension with the Suns prior to the deadline ahead of last summer brought more fuel to the fire there before Ayton’s offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers in restricted free agency was quickly matched by Phoenix.

But after a poor showing last postseason, more uncertainty regarding Ayton’s future materialized. Despite that noise, Ayton has remained in Phoenix through the offseason amid all the speculation. Ayton has three more years left on his extension, making $32.5 million for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Nurkic is a nine-year NBA veteran, originally getting his start with the Denver Nuggets in 2014 after getting selected 16th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Phoenix has not been shy with marquee moves this offseason, acquiring star guard Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards in exchange for a trade package involving point guard Chris Paul.

The Suns start training camp on Oct. 3.

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