AP Photo/David Zalubowski
With plenty of speculation surrounding a potential trade for Portland Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard, it appears that the Phoenix Suns may be interested in moving center Deandre Ayton in a multi-team deal, according to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.
On Thursday Gambadoro reported that he expects a deal for Lillard to take place over the next 24 hours, making Trail Blazers’ center Jusuf Nurkic available as well, which may be of interest to Phoenix.
While Ayton reportedly didn’t interest Portland ahead of this year’s NBA draft, potentially losing Lillard may change some things on the Trail Blazers’ end.
Due to their recent trades for Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, the Suns don’t have the assets to acquire Lillard themselves, but that doesn’t restrict them from helping to facilitate a deal as a third team.
Ayton has notably been included in trade rumors for the past few years.
There’s been plenty of friction between the two parties, particularly after a failure to reach a contract extension with the Suns prior to the deadline last summer. He signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers but it was later matched by the Suns to bring him back.
The former No. 1 overall pick is coming off a campaign in which he averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest and shot 58.8 percent from the field. But following a rough postseason showing, his future in the Valley is once again in question.
ESPN’s Tim McMahon reported back in May that Ayton would be “excited about a fresh start with another franchise” after the Suns were eliminated in the second-round by the Denver Nuggets.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers may be looking to move off Nurkic and his massive four-year, $70 million extension that he signed last offseason. The 29-year-old has three years remaining on the deal and averaged 13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 52 games last season.
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