Despite being favored in their series against the Denver Nuggets in the West Semifinals, the Phoenix Suns were eliminated by the Nuggets in six games after losing Game 6 by 25 points at home. Their loss is just the latest in several shocking upsets in this year’s playoffs, and Suns starting center Deandre Ayton has received much of the individual blame. No one doubts Ayton’s talent, but he has consistently been criticized for his lack of effort, and his lackluster Game 1 performance didn’t satisfy his critics.
After that game, he promised a better performance going forward, but he was benched in their Game 3 win in favor of backup center Jock Landale. Landale isn’t as physically gifted or talented as Ayton, but his on-court effort is often better, leading Suns coach Monty Williams to ride with him. Williams and Ayton have clashed in the past, and now that Denver has eliminated Phoenix, Ayton could be the one gone this summer.
Will the Phoenix Suns trade DeAndre Ayton?
According to a rumor from longtime Arizona sports radio host John Gambadora, the Suns could very well move the former #1 overall pick this summer and may in fact trade him for an all-star.
While the Suns acquiring Kyrie Irving may seem far-fetched, there are corroborating reports that support the rumor. After all, Phoenix shopped Chris Paul at the trade deadline in hopes of finding a long-term replacement point guard. They didn’t ultimately move him, but with Paul nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career, the Suns could try again to find his replacement this summer by pursuing Irving. If Irving agreed to join the Suns in free agency, they could theoretically work out a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks for Ayton.
Coincidentally, the Mavericks are said to have an interest in Ayton (subscription required). Additionally, if Dallas can’t agree to terms on a new deal with Irving and he decides to reunite with former teammate Kevin Durant in Phoenix, they could be open to a sign-and-trade. Given that Dallas gave up a lot to land Irving, going that route would allow them to recoup some of those assets.
Still, there are definitely a few potential roadblocks. Phoenix could decide not to pursue Irving, or he could choose to re-sign with the Mavericks. The Suns could also keep Ayton or look to move him elsewhere, closing the door on an Ayton-for-Irving deal.
Then again, the possibility of forming a new Big 3 in Phoenix with Durant and Devin Booker may be too hard for Irving or the Suns to pass up. It’s far from a certainty, but losing to Denver could cause Phoenix to make another big trade this summer and Ayton may be on the move as a result.