Phoenix Suns legend and “NBA on TNT” analyst Charles Barkley weighed in on the team's decision to trade former starting center Deandre Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers for Jusuf Nurkic.

“Something was going on with Deandre Ayton,” Barkley said. “It goes back to there was an issue with Monty Williams and Deandre Ayton. Now clearly, it must have been something else going on in the organization. They clearly just wanted to get rid of him.”

Barkley later said he is “not upset” with the Suns' choice to move Ayton and they are a top contender, in his eyes, in the West along with the Los Angeles Lakers. He sees the Milwaukee Bucks as the favorite to win the NBA championship after they acquired guard Damian Lillard.

The Suns could have their best team in franchise history on the floor this season. Phoenix acquired three-time All-Star Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards to team up with superstars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.

The Suns hired an NBA championship-winning coach, Frank Vogel, who has led teams to the top defensive rating in the NBA three times since 2012. Phoenix also upgraded its bench and added several capable shooters, including former Brooklyn Nets wing Yuta Watanabe and former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon.

In the deal with the Trail Blazers and Bucks, the Suns also acquired Portland wings Nassir Little and Keon Johnson, who were each formerly five-star prospects, and Bucks guard Grayson Allen, who started 70 of 72 games played with Milwaukee in 2022-23.