It took less than 24 hours for questions to pop up about Deandre Ayton’s future with the Phoenix Suns after the team was eliminated from the playoffs. Ayton, who was unable to play in the team’s Game 6 loss to the Denver Nuggets due to an injury, would apparently “be excited about a fresh start” if one came about this offseason, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
The good news for Ayton is that the Suns are planning on gauging his market. Per MacMahon, Phoenix is going to do its due diligence in trying to find a potential trade partner for the soon-to-be 25-year-old big man.
Sources told ESPN that Ayton’s teammates have shared their coach’s frustration with what they perceive to be inconsistent effort and aggression from the 7-footer.
Ayton would be excited about a fresh start with another franchise, sources told ESPN. The Suns are expected to aggressively explore the trade market for him this summer, league sources said.
A former No. 1 overall pick, Ayton signed a 4-year, $133 million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers as a restricted free agent last summer, which the Suns quickly matched. This came on the heels of a wave of rumors of discontent between the player and the team, as Ayton was famously benched in Phoenix’s Game 7 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Semifinals last year — Ayton claimed that he and Monty Williams did not speak in the four and a half months between that game and the start of training camp this past year.
Even before he got hurt against Denver, Ayton struggled during the 2023 postseason, as he averaged 13.4 points on 55 percent shooting and 9.7 rebounds in 31.9 minutes per game.