Suns big man Deandre Ayton could be on the move this summer – but where?
Ayton would embrace a new dynamic duo with Pistons stud point guard Cade Cunningham, Marc Stein reported on Thursday.
That came after The Athletic reported Wednesday that the Pistons are expected to “heavily” pursue the Suns center, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, adding that Ayton is more likely to play elsewhere next season.
Detroit traded Jerami Grant to Portland on Wednesday for a 2025 first-round pick via Milwaukee. That same day, Ayton was a no-show at teammate JaVale McGee’s Juglife charity softball game, in which Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges all participated.
The trade buzz surrounding Ayton comes over his desire for a max contract that the Suns have thus far been unwilling to offer.
“Look: We’re disappointed. We wanted a max contract, ”Ayton’s agent Bill Duffy said after the season. “He went out and was a soldier 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. ”
Ayton – who’s part of the Phoenix’s Big 3 alongside Booker and Paul – was benched in the second half of the Suns’ Game 7 loss to the Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals.
At the time, Suns coach Monty Williams told reporters the decision was “internal” when asked about Ayton playing 17 minutes. Ayton, who was limited to five points and four rebounds, did not speak to reporters after the loss.
Ayton and Williams reportedly had a verbal spat on the sidelines and had to be separated by Suns coaches, though the situation was not captured by broadcast cameras.
Prior to that, Ayton was not happy with the Suns after the team wouldn’t budge on his push for a five-year max deal worth $ 172.5 million last October. He currently has a cap hold of $ 31.5 million.
Ayton, who was the Suns’ No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has been an integral part of Phoenix’s success since they landed Paul in the summer of 2020. He helped lead the team to an NBA Finals appearance in 2021, and has received praise from the veteran point guard.
After the Suns beat the Clippers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals last July, Paul said on an ESPN broadcast that Ayton was due to “get him a bag this summer.”
Ayton had 19 points, 22 rebounds and four blocks in that win.