After their embarrassing Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Phoenix Suns are going to have some thinking to do. Many believed that this would finally be the year that Chris Paul would win his first championship ring. Instead, the team lost to the Mavericks at home for the first time since 2019 and will not watch the rest of the playoffs from the comfort of their homes.
The summer looms with some big decisions. The drama surrounding Deandre Ayton’s contract extension has circulated the team all season. No deal ever got done, which means that Ayton is scheduled to become a free agent. There is a belief that Ayton is not coming back, especially since he played only 17 minutes in Game 7, which included none in the fourth quarter. If that is the case, the Suns need to get value in return and not let the former No. 1 overall pick walk for nothing.
Here are three blockbuster trade ideas that the Suns can do this summer to make sure that does not happen.
Suns Improve 3-Point Shooting With Christan Wood And Eric Gordon
Houston Rockets Receive: Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns Receive: Christian Wood, Eric Gordon
This trade would allow the Suns to open up more on offense. For starters, Ayton has one specific skill set. He benefits from pick-and-roll situations and is predominantly only able to finish around the rim. He has not developed a jump shot, which makes him one dimensional. While his rebounding and shot-blocking have gotten better, his defensive abilities do not overcome his inability on offense to finish anywhere outside 10 feet from the rim.
This trade would allow the Suns to have a better three-point shooter on both rotations. For starters, Wood is a way better outside shooter. Ayton made seven three-point shots last season, while Wood made over 100. He finished last season making 1.9 three-point shots per game. Gordon, another great outside shooter, could join the second unit and provide some deep shooting with an already talented bench. With Cameron Johnson and Gordon on the second unit, the Suns would have two talented wings that could spot up.
This would be a good move for the Rockets as well. The Rockets are rebuilding. Pending on what draft selection they get, the team could draft a player like Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren. With Ayton in the middle, paired alongside Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., the Rockets would have a talented young foundation that could probably compete in a few years. Plus, Ayton does have playoff success, having played in the NBA Finals last year. That knowledge of playing on a winner would help the young Rockets core develop into a winner.
Suns Land A True Defensive Player
Brooklyn Nets Receive: Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns Receive: Ben Simmons
This idea is pretty simple. The Nets need a talented big man to help them win. Andre Drummond could come back, but that is no guarantee. You can’t count on Blake Griffin anymore. Guys like DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge are way past their primes. It’s time to get a younger player that can help the team win now. Ayton wants to be paid like a max player, so a sign-and-trade with Simmons, who is also a max player, would make sense for both sides.
For starters, Ayton has skills that would translate great for Brooklyn. Ayton doesn’t need to be a true scorer. He could rebound, shoot, block, and would still benefit from scoring under the basket in pick-and-roll situations because Kyrie Irving is handling the ball. Irving, who might be better at Paul in these situations, would make sure that Ayton would still get his 10 or more points. With that said, the team has Kevin Durant, Irving, and other solid shooters that could take care of the offense. Ayton would give the team one true defensive stopper and their best rebounder in three seasons.
As for the Suns, adding Ben Simmons would give the Suns the true defensive player they are missing. While Chris Paul is a former All-Defensive First Team player, he is not that anymore. He will be 38 years old next year and he can’t hang with Luka Doncic or other players of his caliber. Simmons can play the forward spot, which could force Jae Crowder to play the five with Mikal Bridges at the four. However, this small-ball lineup could work and get Phoenix back in the NBA Finals. Simmons would have a perfect situation where he would not need to bring top-tier offense, while the Suns would have two Defensive Player of the Year candidates in Simmons and Bridges on the same team.
Suns Go All In For Anthony Davis
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Deandre Ayton, Cameron Johnson, Landry Shamet, 2023 First Round Pick, 2025 First Round Pick
Phoenix Suns Receive: Anthony Davis
Given Anthony Davis’ injuries in the last few years, his value is fairly low. The Lakers would be happy to get a few first-round picks to help the franchise stay afloat after next season, especially with the chances that LeBron James could leave when his contract expires. For this year, the Lakers appear to have one last shot at winning another title with James in the fold. With the likelihood of Russell Westbrook picking up his option and sticking around, how can the Lakers get younger and more athletic?
When the Lakers won the championship in 2020, the team had a top-3 defense. A lot of that was with Davis playing power forward and finishing near the top of the DPOY voting. Ayton would give the Lakers a true defensive stopper. Ayton is younger and can still rebound at a high level. The Lakers also get two solid outside shooters in Johnson and Shamet. Once James leaves after 2023, the team can hit the reset button with Westbrook’s contract expiring and two draft picks for the future.
If the Suns wanted to roll the dice on Davis, it would be a high reward situation if it paid off. The Suns would have a more offensively skilled player with Davis in the paint than Ayton. If he stayed healthy, he could match what Ayton brought to the table in rebounds and blocks. Altogether, when healthy, Davis is a top player in the league and a bona fide All-Star. However, with Davis playing a combined 76 games the last two seasons, there would be a risk.
Suns Must Get Value In Return For Deandre Ayton
If Ayton was coming back next season, wouldn’t it have made sense for him to play in the fourth quarter? When Monty Williams told the media that the decision was internal, that was a red flag for Ayton to come back to the team. The tea leaves have predicted this for months. The two sides couldn’t agree during the season. Ayton believes he is worth more money than the Suns believe. The two sides will end in a divorce, which means that the Suns have to get value in return. If the Nets can get what they got in return for James Harden, which featured Ben Simmons not playing at all this season, the Suns should be able to get a solid offer for a player that could be an All-Star one day.
The window for the Suns is closing. This season saw the Suns win 64 games and own the best record in the Western Conference. For another year, the top team in the conference lost in the second round. As mentioned, Paul is not getting any younger and there is only so much that a nearly 40-year-old player can offer. If the Suns do not believe that Ayton can help the team win a championship, then it’s time to go separate ways. With that said, this is a business and you must maximize the value of your pieces.
Ayton is not a slouch. He has averaged a double-double in all four seasons. He is 23 years old and coming off a season that saw him average 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and shoots 63.4% from the field. The question is what is his ceiling? Is he another DeAndre Jordan? Is he Mitchell Robinson? Either way, there is a difference in payment for both of those players. The Suns may have two more years to contend for a title. If the team wants to win now, and Ayton is not a part of that plan, it’s time to take a gamble and use their best trade asset to get something of high quality in return.