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NBA Rumors: Are the Suns Shopping Paul & Ayton? Potential Landing Spots

Oct 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) passes the ball to guard Chris Paul (3) against Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock (25) during the third quarter at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are coming off a disappointing early playoff exit. As a result, it appears that the Suns will make some significant roster moves this summer.

NBA Rumors: Are the Suns Shopping Paul & Ayton? Potential Landing Spots

Suns 2023 Postseason Struggles

After getting off to a slow start to the season, the acquisition of Kevin Durant appeared to be the shot in the arm that the Suns needed. The Suns went 15-11 after the trade deadline, including 8-0 in games, Durant played to secure the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

Phoenix entered the NBA playoffs as the favorite out west. While Phoenix defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in five games, it wasn’t as easy as it was supposed to be against a shorthanded Clippers team. The Suns dropped the first game in Phoenix, and the rest of the contests were close for at least the first half.

Phoenix averaged 122 points in the opening round. But the Suns struggled on that end as they fell in six games to Denver, particularly on the road. The Suns scored 102 points in three of the six contests versus the Nuggets and 107.7 for the series. They shot just 33.1% from beyond the arc and got to the free-throw line at a rate of only .231.

The fallout from Phoenix’s playoff failure is expected to be massive. The first shoe has already dropped with the Suns with head coach  Monty Williams being axed on Saturday night. What other changes will the Suns make?

“We’ll see, we’ll see,” said Durant after Thursday’s 125-100 Game 6 loss to the Nuggets when asked if the Suns need to make significant changes.

While no specific details have been made about possible moves the Suns may make, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton‘s names have been bantered about being next to be exiled from the Valley of the Sun.

Suns Coaching Rumors

Where does Phoenix go from here? With Williams just being fired less than 48 hours ago, there is no clear direction for the Suns at this point. The Athletic’s Doug Heller threw out former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer, an Arizona native, and ex-Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse as names that will inevitably be linked to the job. Other potential candidates are David Vanterpool, Terry Stotts, Nate McMillan, Adrian Griffin, Sam Cassell, Becky Hammon Kenny Atkinson, Kevin Young, Mark Jackson, and  Frank Vogel.

Budenholzer and Nurse, in particular, are thought to have received raw deals with their firings. Not sure about that. But Budenholzer probably would be a better fit for the Suns of the two. The two-time NBA COY has won in both stops with a career-winning percentage above .600, including .538 in the postseason.

Vanterpool, Griffin, Cassell, and Young don’t have any head coaching experience. Hammon knows basketball and can coach. However, it’s unclear if she is a fit with the Suns. Jackson, McMillan, and Vogel would be very intriguing names.

Marc Stein, via his substack, reports that the Suns are trying to lure Tyronn Lue away from the LA Clippers.

Lue would be an excellent choice if they can pry him from the Clippers. However, not sure why the Clippers would allow him to bolt. Lue previously said that he expects to return to Los Angeles.

Chris Paul

Paul is slowly showing his age. The 38-year-old has played well for the Suns over the last three years, but his defense and scoring have dropped off slightly. He still has two years left on his contract though only $15.8 million of his $80 million is guaranteed.

My contract is not up,” Paul said when asked if he expected to remain with the Suns. “Unfortunately, I’m not the GM or anything like that. We’ll see.”

While Paul is not the player he once was, he is still very productive and could be a solid pickup for a championship-caliber team if the Suns trade him. Injuries are also a concern.

Where Could Paul Land if He is Traded?

The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee, and Minnesota Timberwolves immediately come to mind.

The Lakers don’t have a point guard under contract for 2023-24. Everyone knows that LeBron James loves to play with stars. D’Angelo Russell and Dennis Schroder are both unrestricted free agents. They project to have $28 million in cap space and could send a package that includes Austin Reaves (sign and trade) back to the Suns.

The Clippers are a very interesting option. Paul obviously has a history with the Clips, playing with them from 2011-17. Plus, LA could use a point guard though they are reportedly interested in re-signing Russell Westbrook. They could send Westbrook, Norman Powell, and Marcus Morris Sr. to the Suns for Paul and other (s).

Paul is probably a better option for the Mavericks than Kyrie Irving, and the 76ers could essentially swap James Harden, who could head back to Houston as a free agent, for Paul.

Paul playing alongside Jrue Holiday would be an interesting pairing for the Bucks to go along with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Meanwhile, Minnesota needs a point guard.

Deandre Ayton

Ayton re-signed with Phoenix last year for max money and has three years left on the deal. As a result of the Suns matching the Indiana Pacers’ offer sheet, the 24-year-old had veto power, but that ends this summer. He seems to be the most likely player to be moved this summer.

“I love Phoenix, man,” Ayton said. “I’m going to continue playing hard for Phoenix and keep representing. I don’t listen to the outside noise. I’m here. I’m happy. We didn’t finish how we wanted to, but there’s always next year. This summer is just more work.”

While the former No. 1 overall draft pick has been inconsistent throughout his career, Ayton, who sat out Game 6 against the Nuggets,  is still one of the best big men in the game. Ayton is coming off a solid campaign, averaging a career-high 18 points a game, and has produced a double-double in each of his first five NBA seasons. However, he did struggle during the playoffs as he put up his worst postseason numbers in his career.

Ayton is fantastic around the rim and has developed into a reliable shooter from inside the three-point line. He is also outstanding on the defensive glass and can rim-protect. But he is not great on the defensive overall.

Where could Ayton land this summer? The Indiana Pacers and Dallas are two of the logical destinations. Washington, Orlando, Brooklyn, Chicago, Milwaukee, Sacramento, and New York are among teams who could also be interested in the talented young big.


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