Following the major Bradley Beal-Chris Paul blockbuster that shook up the beginning of the 2023 NBA offseason, the Phoenix Suns are seemingly in the market to make another noteworthy splash, as rumors are circulating suggesting that their franchise pivot Deandre Ayton is up for the taking.
Per a recent report by Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer, the franchise has the desire to team up with the Philadelphia 76ers to facilitate a multi-team exchange where veteran forward Tobias Harris heads to Arizona and Ayton lands with a third party.
“The Suns want the Sixers to facilitate a 3-team deal that would land Tobias Harris in Phoenix, according to a league source. The third team would take Suns center Deandre Ayton and send assets to Philly,” Pompey wrote.
Of course, since this report surfaced, some such as John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Phoenix have gone on to refute the idea of a deal with Philadelphia being coveted by the Suns. Nonetheless, based on rumblings dating as far back as the summer of 2022, it seems apparent that GM James Jones is rather willing to part ways with the club's former top overall draft selection should the right offer come along.
Should it be by way of a third party in a multi-team deal or via a straight-up exchange, if the Phoenix Suns wish to move Deandre Ayton this summer, there are three teams, in specific, that could prove to be realistic suitors for his services.
Possible Deandre Ayton landing spot No. 3) San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs may be in a full-fledged rebuilding phase, but teams such as these often have ample cap space at their disposal and veterans under contract who don't fit their desired timeline.
While Deandre Ayton could be a player who can help a win-now club, considering his still youthful age of just 24, there's an argument to be made that he could be a quality grab for San Antonio's frontcourt to pair alongside incoming rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama both for the now and for the many years to come and is someone who can help offload some unwanted individuals who don't fit the mold of their desired youth movement.
Phoenix is looking for ways to fill out their roster to better surround their new three-headed attack of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. Should they just wish to shed some salary, sending him to San Antonio would be an ideal scenario as they currently have the third most cap space available this offseason.
However, if they want to simultaneously bring back complementary talents to help beef up their rotational depth, then perhaps targeting trusty veterans such as Doug McDermott, Zach Collins, and Gorgui Dieng along with some draft capital could be an intriguing course of action as well.
Possible Deandre Ayton landing spot No. 2) Portland Trail Blazers
The only reason why the Portland Trail Blazers fall to number two on this list rather than number one is the lingering mystery regarding the future of franchise cornerstone Damian Lillard. Should they wish to offload the point guard and embark on a rebuild, then perhaps a deal with the Phoenix Suns wouldn't be all that lucrative, as there are bound to be teams vying for his services that are flush with more desirable assets for the taking.
However, should their goal be to hold onto the veteran and continue their efforts of building a competitive team around him, then pursuing the likes of Deandre Ayton would be an intriguing option to consider.
A prolific interior scorer and a sound pick-and-roll companion, the addition of the fifth-year big to a rotation already consisting of Lillard and (assuming they re-sign him) Jerami Grant could make for a highly impactful three-man punch, while his arrival would prove to the former that Portland is committed to making him happy by any means necessary.
As for the Suns, they likely would be able to better fill out their roster by acquiring salary-matching contracts and, simultaneously, quality veterans such as Jusuf Nurkic who makes significantly less than Ayton and, considering his passing skills and floor-stretching abilities, is arguably a better fit for their new-look superteam anyway.
Possible Deandre Ayton landing spot No. 1) Charlotte Hornets
Pairing a guy like Deandre Ayton with an all-around superstar-caliber talent such as LaMelo Ball could make for some seriously entertaining basketball down in Buzz City.
After failing to qualify for the postseason for the seventh straight year, the Hornets are likely to try and beef up their rotation tremendously to better their odds of contending for a top-eight seed as soon as 2023-24 and, in turn, keep their franchise point guard happy along the way.
They may have just bolstered their wing position with their decisions to select Brandon Miller and Nick Smith Jr. in this year's NBA Draft, but their collection of talent at the five still is rather lacking.
Bringing on a guy like Ayton who, even during an “underwhelming” season like 2022-23, still went on to post 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and just shy of a block on 58.9% shooting from the field could be a quick and simple way to thrust Charlotte back into the playoff conversation.