Woj: Suns 'Very Motivated' to Find Sign-and-Trade Partner for Deandre Ayton

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 23, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 10: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns celebrates against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 10, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns finished with the best record in the league this past season, but they are reportedly looking to trade away one of their core pieces.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that the Suns want to find a sign-and-trade partner to get value back for restricted free agent Deandre Ayton.

"They're very motivated to find a sign-and-trade, get some assets back for him," Wojnarowski said. "They do not value Deandre Ayton at a max contract."

There is plenty to like about Ayton for any potential suitor.

After all, he is just 23 years old, has plenty of playoff experience after helping lead the Suns to the NBA Finals in 2021 and is a double-double threat every time he steps on the floor. He averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game while shooting 63.4 percent from the field in 2021-22.

However, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft has been outshone by fellow draft class members Luka Doncic and Trae Young and is yet to agree to a new deal with the Suns.

That Wojnarowski reported Phoenix doesn't value him as a max-contract player is notable since he reported in May that "Ayton did not feel valued by this Phoenix organization" with a number of teams looking to figure out a way to land him in a deal.

Ayton also played just 17 minutes in the Suns' Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in their second-round playoff series, and head coach Monty Williams told reporters "it's internal" when asked why the big man spent so much time on the bench.

The uncertainty around Ayton is already a major storyline during an offseason that could see multiple notable Western Conference big men moved with Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert also the subject of rumors.

Whichever team lands Ayton will likely look to sign him to a long-term deal if it moves assets in a sign-and-trade, which is apparently just the scenario the Suns envision.