NBA Trade Rumors: If the Phoenix Suns want to take a step forward next season, that likely means trading Deandre Ayton this summer.
In back-to-back seasons, facing elimination on their home floor in the Western Conference semifinals, the Phoenix Suns faltered. In a big way.
Last season, the Suns lost Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks on their home floor by 33 points. And it never felt that close. This season, the Suns lost Game 6 against the Denver Nuggets by 25 points. And it never felt that close.
This time, however, it was different. It felt different. The Suns didn’t have Kevin Durant on their roster last season. They did this season. For a team that had emerged as the favorite to win the West heading into the playoffs, losing in the second round (albeit to a really good Nuggets team, who probably should be the favorite) is nothing short of a disappointment.
You can point to injuries to Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, who wasn’t available for Game 6, but at this point in the season there are so many teams dealing with injuries. And history in the NBA, fair or not, doesn’t remember injuries.
Heading into a summer where the pressure to improve the roster to the point of championship contention will be on the Suns’ front office’s shoulders, you can’t help but wonder what will happen this offseason for Phoenix.
Deandre Ayton may be the odd man out for the Phoenix Suns
They have to improve the roster, but doing so without a first-round draft pick or salary cap space means that the team will have to do so via trade. Looking at their roster, there’s one player that you almost have to assume will be moved or has to be shopped this summer from the Suns’ perspective – Deandre Ayton.
The reasoning is simple. The Suns aren’t trading KD or Booker. Even if they wanted to, I have a hard time believing that the Suns would be able to move Chris Paul and his contract. Not at this point in his career. The Suns could theoretically float a trade package centered around Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet but I’m not sure if that would bring about much traction on the open market.
Ayton is the only other player that could open the door for a realistic and tangible shakeup to the team’s roster.
I would even go on to say that if the Suns are going to emerge as an improved team next season, they almost have to trade Ayton this summer. He’s emerged as the most polarizing player on the team and it may be time to move on.
The KD and Booker championship window is maybe another 2-3 years. If there’s a move to be made that would drastically change the dynamic (and trajectory) of this team to be had this offseason involving Ayton, there’s no question that the Suns should pull the trigger.