Deandre Ayton trade about better fit for Suns’ championship window
Oct 2, 2023, 12:08 PM | Updated: 3:22 pm
The Phoenix Suns made a major move by trading Deandre Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers in hopes of ending some off the court drama that loomed over the team.
Ayton was often questioned for his effort defensively, struggled to stay engaged if he was not scoring the basketball and had a televised disagreement with previous head coach Monty Williams on the sidelines.
His name had been swirling in trade rumors for the better half of the last two years, but owner Mat Ishbia and general manager James Jones finally pulled the string.
The Suns received some much-needed depth in big man Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Grayson Allen and Keon Johnson, something Ishbia called the best fit for the team.
“For our team, Nurkic was a better fit for us. And we are trying to win a championship now,” Ishbia said at Suns media day on Monday.
“What Nurkic can do on the court, off the court and fit into the organization, he is a better fit for us. … On top of that, to get Grayson Allen and Nassir Little, a group of guys that will make us better. Our team got better that day without question. Nurkic might not put up the numbers that Ayton put up, which is perfectly fine, but he is going to play the role.”
Suns owner Mat Ishbia said the Deandre Ayton trade for Jusuf Nurkic was about fit. pic.twitter.com/fDGfqqfChq
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) October 2, 2023
Ishbia mentioned that the team was building around its three stars, Durant, Booker and Beal, and wanted to put the best pieces around them to succeed.
“Our team is different. We made some additions to our team that allow us and force us to play differently,” Jones told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke.
“Deandre, for everything that he has brought, just needed another opportunity. And we needed another opportunity to explore that position. We had a chance to improve the team by adding Nurkic and we jumped on it. We thought the collection of talent and attributes we acquired in that trade would make us a better team.”
Jones said that Damian Lillard was the big domino that decided this trade. Because he is a superstar, the Suns felt that he would want to be on a new team before training camp and that meant the trade would happen in September, which it ultimately did.