NBA Rumors: Phoenix Suns May Trade Key Star

The Phoenix Suns may dismantle their superteam before it even has a chance to get off the ground. Speaking on the Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN's Tim MacMahon expressed confidence that the Suns would trade former first-overall pick Deandre Ayton sometime this summer.

The Suns signed Ayton to a massive four-year, $132 million contract last offseason, but a new CBA (and the acquisition of Kevin Durant) apparently already has them feeling the crunch. Their active roster cap for the 2023-24 season sits at a colossal $165.6 million with only seven rostered players.

Of the Suns' top four earners, MacMahon is right to peg Ayton as the likeliest to move. He lacks the superstar scoring ability of Durant and Devin Booker, and his contract isn't quite as onerous as Chris Paul's, who is set to earn $30.8 million next year at 39 years old.

In a free agency class devoid of game-changers, Ayton could entice a team looking to make a splash. He's only 24 years old, and he has demonstrated the ability to be a valuable player in the NBA. He put up 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game with an efficient .617 true shooting percentage last season, and he was key in a Suns 2020-21 playoff run that included a trip to the Finals. 

It shouldn't be too difficult for the Suns to find a buyer on Ayton; teams could easily convince themselves the right coach and the right role could help him flourish into one of the league's better centers. Moving on from him could also help the Suns recoup some of the assets they gave up by acquiring Durant.

The biggest issue may be selling it to the Suns' players. It'd be hard to argue trading Ayton would make the 2023-24 Suns a better roster than the 2022-23 Suns, and with the clock ticking on Durant (34 years old) and Paul (38 years old), patience may be in short supply. Stay tuned: the Suns could be one of the most fascinating teams of the offseason.  

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