Deandre Ayton Rumors: Raptors Almost Acquired Star in Sign-and-Trade Last Offseason

Adam WellsFebruary 2, 2023

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 30: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks on before the game against the Toronto Raptors on January 30, 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

As the Toronto Raptors continue to weigh their options leading up to the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline, they reportedly came close to acquiring Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton last offseason.

Per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, the Raptors were "close" to a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns that would have brought Ayton to Toronto.

There had been simmering tensions between Ayton and the Suns over his contract dating back to last season.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in October 2021 that Ayton wanted to receive a rookie max extension from the Suns, but they never made the offer. When the deadline passed for him to sign an extension, he played out the final season of his rookie contract to become a restricted free agent last summer.

Ayton had an extended stay on the market before agreeing to a four-year, $133 million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers on July 14. The Suns immediately matched the offer to retain the 24-year-old center.

There weren't a lot of rumors connecting Ayton to Toronto as the free-agent process played out.

Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer reported last month that the Raptors have "sniffed" around the market for big men in recent years, including engaging with the Dallas Mavericks about Kristaps Porziņģis and showing interest in Rudy Gobert last summer.

If the Raptors were in the market for a center last offseason, it makes sense that they would have at least made overtures toward Ayton.

Lewenberg didn't provide any details about what Toronto might have sent to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade agreement for Ayton, but he did note the Suns are among the teams currently interested in acquiring O.G. Anunoby before the trade deadline.

Ayton is eligible to be traded if the Suns want to move on. It would be a dramatic turn of events because of how important he was to their success in the previous two seasons.

So far this season, both Ayton and the Suns have taken a significant step back. Since Devin Booker went down with a groin injury on Christmas Day, the Suns have gone 8-11 and are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference.

Per Wojnarowski, Booker could return for Phoenix's Feb. 7 game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Ayton is averaging 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, but his 57.4 field-goal percentage is on pace to be his worst since 2019-20.

The Raptors have lost 18 of 25 games since Dec. 9 and are 12th overall in the Eastern Conference standings with a 23-30 record.