Spurs, Trail Blazers ‘Strong Fits’ To Trade For Suns’ Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

One of the most intriguing storylines of free agency this year is going to be what happens with Deandre Ayton. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton and the Phoenix Suns were unable to work out a rookie extension before the deadline in October. As a result, he is heading into restricted free agency.

A few months ago, it seemed like a no-brainer that the Suns would retain Ayton. He has improved every season he has been in the NBA and is a main cog in the rotation that has led to so much success on the court the last two seasons.

Despite that, ownership seems very hesitant to commit long-term, max money to Ayton. Teams will have to ask themselves if they are missing something when it comes to him, or if this is another case of Robert Sarver being his regular self.

It is sounding more and more likely that Ayton will actually leave the desert this offseason. Phoenix will assuredly push to make a sign-and-trade, as losing a 23-year-old potential franchise center isn’t good for business. Getting back any assets they can for him is better than watching him walk in free agency for nothing.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: NBA Insider Reveals Full Scope Of Deandre Ayton’s Free Agency Market

Over at The Athletic, a paid subscription publication, John Hollinger and Detroit Pistons beat writer James L. Edwards discussed Ayton’s impending free agency and the likelihood of him ending up in the Motor City. They also discussed where else he could end up, and two teams were mentioned as strong fits; the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers.

“If not the Pistons, the other two strong fits I see for Ayton are in Portland and San Antonio. Portland, again, would almost certainly be through a sign-and-trade given the Blazers’ current cap situation; the Spurs have the cap room to sign Ayton outright but a sign-and-trade — for, say, Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson — would seem a more likely endgame.”

Ayton would be a nice upgrade for both teams in the middle of their lineups. The Portland Trail Blazers are looking to reshape their roster this offseason around Damian Lillard after bottoming out during the 2021-22 campaign. With Jusuf Nurkic entering free agency himself, there could be a void at the center position.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: NBA Insider Reveals Full Scope Of Deandre Ayton’s Free Agency Market

The San Antonio Spurs don’t necessarily need to work out a sign-and-trade as they can make cap space to sign a max player. The only real incentive they would have to complete one with the Phoenix Suns is if they sign other players with that cap space and then have to unload some deals to fit Ayton’s contract on the books.

At this time, those three teams seem to be the front runners for him. But, teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets, who are both desperate for centers, shouldn’t be ruled out either.