Suns’ Deandre Ayton “Likely” to Play Elsewhere Next Season

Deandre Ayton in 2018
Deandre Ayton in 2018. Photo by Thurman James/CSM/Shutterstock (9454331ab)

The Phoenix Suns and their talented center Deandre Ayton are reportedly heading towards a breakup this offseason. According to a recent report by The Athletic, it is “more likely than not” that Ayton plays elsewhere next season.

The relationship between the two sides has deteriorated ever since the Suns refused to give Ayton a max rookie extension last summer. This made the 2018’s first overall pick feel underappreciated by the franchise, and he is no longer convinced that Phoenix represents his long-term future.

On the other hand, the Suns don’t believe Ayton is a max-player even though the Arizona product had his best season as a pro in 2021-22 and averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. One of the reasons is that the organization reportedly has questions about the 23-year-old player’s character and work ethic. This even caused him to clash with head coach Monty Williams and play only 17 minutes in the elimination game of the second-round series against the Dallas Mavericks.

While the Suns might not be eager to keep Ayton around, it is also improbable that they just let him walk out of the door. Since the Suns have the ability to match any offer that Ayton receives in restricted free agency, the more likely option is a sign-and-trade. This will give Phoenix something in return while allowing the player to start fresh with a new team.

Ayton has been averaging 16.3 points, 10.5 boards, and 1.0 assists since he entered the league four years ago.

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