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#pounditThursday, September 21, 2023

Report reveals Suns’ plan for Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton during a game

Apr 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) against the New Orleans Pelicans during game two of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Deandre Ayton is coming off an uninspiring postseason with the Phoenix Suns, and it sounds like it is possible that he has played his last game for the franchise.

The Suns are expected to “aggressively explore the trade market” for Ayton this offseason, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports. Ayton also wants to move on, as sources told MacMahon that the former No. 1 overall pick would be excited if he got a fresh start with a new team.

Ayton did not play in Game 6 on Thursday night due to a rib contusion. The Suns were blown out in a 118-102 season-ending loss to the Denver Nuggets. Ayton averaged 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in the five contests he played.

Ayton was benched late in Game 3 and seemed unhappy even though the Suns won. He did not speak with the media afterward and also appeared to snub one of his teammates on the sideline (video here).

There was a sequence earlier in the series where Ayton appeared to give minimal effort, which likely contributed to Williams’ decision to sit him down late in Game 3.

Ayton signed a four-year, $133 million contract to remain with the Suns last summer. Even after he signed that deal, there were indications that the relationship between him and head coach Monty Williams was not all that solid. If the Suns can find a suitable trade partner, it would make sense for them to move on from the center.


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