Would you rather keep Chris Paul or DeAndre Ayton with the Suns?
1. The case for keeping DeAndre Ayton
The argument for Paul might be compelling, but Ayton’s case is also pretty strong. To start with he is a whopping 14 years younger than his current teammate, and in theory has not yet even entered his prime. On the defensive end coach Vogel is going to work wonders with him, and he can absolutely be the lynchpin in a top five defense next season. The Suns already expect it.
The last five winners of the regular season MVP award have all been centers, and although Ayton won’t be winning that award himself, he is the player who is going to be tasked with slowing them down. Durant can certainly help, but the idea is to keep him as fresh as possible so as to be an offensive terror, and this duel impact of the two is something Paul could never even attempt.
The league has trended back towards dominant big men in general, and players with Ayton’s ability at his height are not easily found. On the other end of the spectrum however, and run of the mill point guards are now a dime a dozen in the league. As already mentioned, the Suns need more than that to replace Paul, but he is an easier fix than that of a championship calibre big man.
The clincher for Ayton though, comes in the fact he still has some sort of trade value. It is not as high as the organization would like it to be, and at over $30 million for the next three seasons, that will be even harder to move once the new CBA takes hold this offseason. But as we have now clearly seen with Paul, he had no trade value at all on his current deal.
From a purely business perspective, it makes more sense to have a young player under contract for three more seasons, and who could get you some kind of meaningful depth in any potential trades. Not that many suitors currently exist, but teams who are not where they’d like to be will always talk themselves into a player like Ayton.
Keeping an older, smaller player in Paul who could only move to a handful of true contenders even if he was on a smaller deal just doesn’t make sense. The Suns can keep Ayton, and hope he develops into the player they need him to be. Even if he doesn’t, they’ll be able to move him at a time when Paul will probably be retired. He also helps them win now. Tough to argue against that.