Questions remain about Deandre Ayton‘s future with the Suns, and with that comes plenty of outside interest.
Per Brandon Robinson of Bally Sports, the Trail Blazers, Spurs and Mavericks are among the teams that have an interest in Ayton should he not return to the Suns.
Ayton is a set to become a restricted free agent in July. So the Suns could match any offer he receives from an outside team. They could also get involved in a sign-and-trade arrangement.
Either way, it’s hard to envision Phoenix letting the former No. 1 overall pick and starting center walk away for nothing. And a return definitely should not be ruled out.
Ayton and the Suns seemed to travel a rocky road this past season, which concluded with a blowout loss to the Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference playoffs. Before that, the Suns compiled the league’s best record (64-18), making this one of the all-time meltdowns.
Ayton was hardly anymore responsible for that than anyone else, but it was clear he was not thrilled when he didn’t get a new deal from the Suns at the start of the year.
His agent, Bill Duffy, relayed as much.
“We’re disappointed. We wanted a max contract,” Duffy said on SiriusXM Radio, via RealGM. “He went out and was a solider the whole year, played well, improved his statistics. So, we’re proud of him. A lot of guys handle things differently, but he was very mature about it.”
That is why Duffy believes Ayton is in line for a big raise.
“Things will work out for Deandre. He’s a valuable player,” Duffy said. “There’s other teams in the league as well. He’s a restricted free agent, so we’ll see how this process unfolds.”
“Deandre had an amazing season and he’s progressed every year and improved every year,” Jones told reporters. “He’s been here and so he’s a big part of what we do. His future with us is something we will address at the proper time which is in the future. He’s a free agent and I’ve said all along: he’s about the same things were about, which is winning. We’ll address it at the proper time.”
Ayton, 23, averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds this season while shooting a career-high 63.4 percent from the field.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted, Ayton was not happy with his contract situation entering the season. It ended prematurely in the Game 7 home loss to the Mavericks, in which Ayton played just 17 minutes and sat for most of the second half.
There was also a brief confrontation with coach Monty Williams on the sideline, something that has led to speculation involving Ayton’s desire to return to Phoenix. Fischer reported that Ayton may not exactly be among Williams’ favorites — another reason to believe that both Ayton and the Suns are perhaps ready to move on.