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Can the Phoenix Suns Successfully Offload DeAndre Ayton?

Deandre Ayton Phoenix
(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Can the Phoenix Suns Successfully Offload DeAndre Ayton?

DeAndre Ayton trade rumors have been swirling for a while, but can the Phoenix Suns actually pull off such a trade?

After bowing out in the Western Conference semifinals to the Denver Nuggets, the Phoenix Suns’ offseason is underway. Head coach Monty Williams was fired. Just last week, the team informed point guard Chris Paul that he will be waived. Paul’s contract was not fully guaranteed, meaning the move will save the Suns $15 million if it comes to fruition, but it doesn’t get them completely out of the woods regarding the salary cap.

Trading DeAndre Ayton: Problem No. 1

Phoenix is actually in a real rough spot regarding their roster outlook. They are well over the cap with only about half a full roster. The most obvious candidate for a salary dump is Ayton, who just finished the first year of a four-year, $132 million contract. He delivered during the regular season, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game, but shrank in the playoffs and averaged just 10 and eight in the series loss to Denver. That performance highlights the primary issue with Phoenix attempting to trade Ayton. Who wants to foot such a hefty bill with no guarantee that it will elevate their team? Any team taking on this contract is going to want draft capital or other compensation to make it worth their while.

Trading DeAndre Ayton: Problem No. 2

A second issue for the Suns in offloading DeAndre Ayton is that they have zero leverage whatsoever. The rumors have been flying for a while now. Everyone knows they have been shopping him, and Phoenix’ salary cap table is public knowledge. They almost have to make this trade happen, and that lack of leverage will lead to getting less value.

Trading DeAndre Ayton: Problem No. 3

The third complicating factor in the Suns trading DeAndre Ayton is the center’s no-trade clause. After Phoenix matched Indiana’s offer sheet last summer, a one-year clause was activated that allows Ayton to veto any trade until mid-July. While this will only be an issue for another month, it restricts the timeline of what is already a tenuous situation for the Phoenix Suns. Talks can’t get too advanced while Ayton still has veto ability. Many teams may address any need they have for a center during the impending 2023 NBA Draft. Overall, the no-trade clause isn’t the worst of Phoenix’ worries, but it just further complicates the prospect of getting a trade done.

Of course, it’s possible Phoenix does some salary cap maneuvering to keep DeAndre Ayton on the team. New head coach Frank Vogel believes he can get the most out of the 24-year-old center. Maybe that’s enough for Phoenix to give Ayton some leeway. However, if the front office wants to go full steam ahead with offloading the former No. 1 overall pick, there are a few factors that could result in a sub-optimal return.

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