It could potentially mean the end of Deandre Ayton – or it could only be the beginning
Playing alongside Andre Drummond for a few months, Deandre Ayton would see first hand the way a star center plays the game, potentially one who would really prefer to make the playoffs this year and would work well with Booker to get there.
Plus, Drummond is only 26-years-old, and is already a star.
He is, in fact, statistically, exactly what the Phoenix Suns want out of Ayton.
Granted Drummond will be immediately much more expensive than Ayton is because he is already a max contact-type player, and there is the chance that Ayton can touch Drummond-like numbers in the near future at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost, but it is far beyond time that Robert Sarver looks less at getting the cheap deal and becomes more focused on getting the stars on the roster who make the Phoenix Suns great again and a regular playoff participant as quickly as possible.
Andre Drummond does that, and does that right now.
Deandre Ayton, unfortunately, does not.
Drummond does have a player option too for this offseason which he is expected to exercise, thus making him an unrestricted free agent, so his acquisition isn’t necessarily a long-term one that clogs up the roster with two down-low centers.
However, if things work out well in Phoenix, there is no reason to think that the Suns wouldn’t be at the top of his list in free agency due to his then current position on the roster.
Sarver and Jones could make a max offer to retain him, then even if he declined and went elsewhere, the Suns still had a good rest of the 2019-20 season with him, hopefully a playoff appearance – as short as it still would likely to be – and Deandre Ayton on the roster to continue to develop.
Yet for all of Ayton’s weaknesses in his game at the moment, he is far from bad and has much more upside yet to be realized.
So while Suns fans are disappointed in his statistical output as the former first overall pick, nobody should ever be calling Ayton a bust and therefore he should have plenty of trade value.
But if he did re-sign in Phoenix, they still have Ayton on the roster and two major options with that being the case:
Keep Ayton (and his still rookie contract), as mentioned above, and attempt to develop him more as a stretch-four (his lack of a 3-point shot is troublesome so far, but with time to develop it, power forward was his preferred position coming out of college so it might actually still come just yet).
Or trade Ayton (and his still rookie contract), and not only potentially receive multiple draft picks in return, but also fill out the roster a little bit more.
Either way, with Drummond, Booker gets that established low-post presence who is already well within his prime, and yet still young, and the team get’s a mid-season boost while also holding onto their prized young center who’ continued learning and presence can only help the franchise in the long-run.