UPDATED: MAY 21, 2023 AT 5:29 PM
Buzz continues to hum on the future of Suns center Deandre Ayton following Phoenix’s consecutive second-round exits in the playoffs.
Multiple NBA executives expect the Dallas Mavericks to be a player for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick this summer, according to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus.
Both squads have failed to get over the hump in recent seasons, with the Mavericks missing the playoffs altogether in 2022-23. The Suns shook their roster up at the trade deadline in February with the Kevin Durant deal, but that left Phoenix deficient in depth and tradable assets.
Ayton is owed $32.5 million in 2023-24 and has two more years on the max contract the Suns matched last offseason after he agreed to an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers.
The executives pointed to Ayton’s connection with Mavs star Luka Doncic and the potential roster depth the Suns could attain if they decided to move him.
More than one NBA source said they expect Dallas to be a likely destination for Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton. Doncic and Ayton share an agent (Bill Duffy of WME Sports) and are said to have a good relationship. “The Suns need depth. I can see them getting Tim Hardaway Jr., JaVale [McGee] back, Josh Green and No. 10,” another source said. “Phoenix would probably flip the pick to another team for depth, or maybe it’d be a big multi-team deal.” Dallas can offer others like Maxi Kleber, Davis Bertans, Reggie Bullock and Jaden Hardy. But Kleber is said to be one of Doncic’s best friends on the team (and one of its better players) and the least likely to be dealt.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported that Ayton would be excited about a fresh start.
Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro has previously linked Ayton to the Mavericks.
Ayton pushed back on rumors of him wanting to find a new home during his exit interviews.
“I love Phoenix, man,” Ayton told reporters at the team’s practice facility after a 125-100 Game 6 loss to the Denver Nuggets. “Honestly, I’m going to continue playing hard for Phoenix. … I don’t listen to the outside noise. I’m here, I’m happy. We didn’t finish the year the way we wanted to.”
Ayton played 67 regular season games, averaging 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds on 58.8% shooting. He missed Phoenix’s Game 6 loss to Denver with a rib contusion.
Another wrench in the Ayton saga has been his relationship with Monty Williams, who was fired from his head coaching position on May 13.
Williams benched Ayton multiple times over the past two playoff runs and the two did not talk last offseason, although Ayton has said publicly their relationship was fine.
The Suns have yet to hire a replacement for Williams, and whether that decision has anything to do with what they decide regarding Ayton will be a key question.