Phoenix Suns star center Deandre Ayton was recently reported as a target for the Atlanta Hawks in free agency. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer put out that report, and now he’s back with another rather eye-opening update on Ayton and the Hawks.

On The Athletic’s NBA Show Podcast (h/t to Pro Basketball Talk), Fischer explained Atlanta’s interest like so:

“Atlanta is definitely another team that I’ve heard for Ayton. There’s one person I talked to pretty consistently who’s like convinced Ayton is the guy that Atlanta wants.”

The Hawks are looking to make changes around Trae Young to help them take the next step. After their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, this season saw them disappoint and get smacked in the first round by the Miami Heat following two wins in the play-in tournament.

While Atlanta’s offense was dominant in the regular season, Young and company folded against Miami. The Hawks want to be able to take pressure off Young offensively while also improving a defense that struggled throughout the season.

Clint Capela is in place as the starting center and is a quality option, but he has an injury history and was a total non-factor in just two playoff games against Miami. While Capela is now 28 years old, Ayton is only going to turn 24 soon and brings more to the table.

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Ayton is seeking a max contract, and the most the Hawks can give him is a four-year deal worth $131 million. Capela is about to make over $18 million in 2022-23 before his two-year, $46 million extension kicks in.

Atlanta doesn’t have the cap space to outright sign Ayton to an offer sheet, so a sign-and-trade would have to be worked out. Perhaps Ayton and the Suns mend fences and he returns, but if he truly wants out and wants to go play for the Hawks, Phoenix getting a guy like Capela back wouldn’t be a bad replacement.

There will be plenty of other suitors for Ayton’s services, so we’ll see how this all plays out.