The Reason Phoenix Haven’t Traded Deandre Ayton

Although it looked like a certainty, the Suns haven’t traded Deandre Ayton and if he is to stay he will be a player that makes or breaks their title hopes.

Ayton had his fair share of issues with former head coach Monty Williams, which ultimately led to some passivity on the court from the big man.

But incoming coach Frank Vogel has said that he’s “intent on really connecting with him” and seems committed to getting his game back to where it was.

“Ayton is the make-or-break factor in Phoenix’s defense being good enough to win four playoff series,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote. “He developed from a confused, out-of-his-depth rookie into a reliable centerpiece during the Suns’ 2021 Finals run. As last season unraveled, the balance Ayton had worked so hard to hone eluded him.”

Dallas and Indiana were two suitors that emerged for Ayton but nothing eventuated.

The Suns went in in a different direction by trading away Chris Paul and acquiring players like Bradley Beal, Eric Gordon and Yuta Watanabe.

There is nothing out there worth Phoenix’s while which is why they haven’t traded Ayton, Lowe believes.

“There is no viable trade right now turning Ayton into the kinds of players (or picks) that would maintain or boost the Suns’ NBA title odds, per league sources,” Lowe said. “The Suns’ top priority — from Ishbia to Ayton and down to the 15th man — should be doing whatever it takes to repair their relationship with Ayton, to lift him back up. The Suns’ likely path toward a good-enough defense is switching a ton across the perimeter while keeping Ayton closer to the paint as the last line.”

The 25-year-old will have a new, bigger man to potentially compete with at center this season since Phoenix also signed Bol Bol in their very busy offseason.

Maybe having someone to compete with will unlock an Ayton of old.