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#pounditMonday, January 30, 2023

Report: Eastern Conference team ‘very close’ to landing Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton looks ahead

Jan 3, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) against the New York Knicks at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Deandre Ayton is widely expected to leave the Phoenix Suns as a restricted free agent, and the center may be close to finding a new home.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “Get Up” Monday morning that the Indiana Pacers are “very close” to acquiring Ayton. Now that Indiana’s trade to send Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics has been completed, they have just about enough salary cap space to sign Ayton to a max contract.

Here’s more from Windhorst:

Ayton can sign an offer sheet with any team, but the Suns reserve the right to match it. They are not planning to do so, though a sign-and-trade may make the most sense for all involved parties.

It has long been reported that the Pacers and Suns are interested in a sign-and-trade that would see them swap centers, with Myles Turner going to Phoenix and Ayton to Indiana. That scenario is still on the table.

Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in his fourth NBA season. If the Pacers can pair him with young standout guard Tyrese Haliburton, they would have an excellent core to build around.

There has been talk that the Suns might want to wait to see how the Kevin Durant sweepstakes play out before coming to a resolution with Ayton, but Ayton can sign an offer sheet anytime he wants. Plus, the Brooklyn Nets have reportedly attached an absurd asking price to Durant. It sounds like Ayton will be on the move sooner rather than later.

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