Is there a perfect trade for Deandre Ayton?
It depends on what you think the Suns can get for Deandre Ayton. There’s no denying his contributions to the Suns the last two seasons and there’s no denying his physical skills but how that translates to trade value is much trickier.
Ayton plays the least valued position in basketball, will command a starting salary of $30 million a year and has a well earned reputation as a talented but inconsistent big man.
I don’t think you’re getting a star for max-contract Deandre Ayton.
For example, I think Pascal Siakam is the perfect trade target for the Suns but I can’t imagine a world where a Usai Ujiri led team is giving up an All NBA caliber wing in his prime to pay an inconsistent Deandre Ayton $30 million a year.
I think the Suns need to focus on filling a few holes in any deal for the former #1 overall pick. A 2 for 1 or 3 for 2 deal makes the most sense. Their biggest needs are a big upgrade from Cam Payne, a bigger wing to physically hold up and a young player to help offset their lack of a first round pick on the roster over the last three years.
There’s one team and one trade partner that could fulfill all three of those needs in one deal for Ayton:
The Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets have a glaring need for a big man to pair with LaMelo Ball and an urgent desire to get better NOW.
Here’s the deal that I think works for everyone involved:
The Hornets get Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder.
The Suns get Terry Rozier, PJ Washington and the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Rozier was previously a target for the Suns before James Jones ascended to General Manager. He’s a 28 year old combo guard that has averaged over 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game over the last three years in Charlotte. He’s a 38% 3 point shooter on over 5 attempts per game in his career and a great free throw shooter to boot. In 20 games without LaMelo Ball this past season, he averaged six assists per game. Rozier is the perfect third guard and a massive upgrade over Cameron Payne.
Washington would give the Suns some much needed size on their wing. He’s a sturdy 6’7, 230 pound forward who has a career 3 point shooting percentage of 38%. He’s a capable defender who would offer better size, better versatility and better shooting than Jae Crowder while also being 23 years old.
Finally, adding a late lottery pick to the roster would allow the Suns to potentially find a replacement for Torrey Craig next year and a potential bigger piece down the road. I’d love to see the Suns take a big wing like Dalen Terry at #13, even if its a reach according to draft boards, Terry is the perfect rookie to add to a competitive, veteran roster.
The Hawks, Pacers and Kings all make potential sense as trade partners as well but to me, if the Suns want to trade Ayton, get better next year and beyond then James Jones needs to get on the golf course with Michael Jordan as soon as possible.