In the end, the Phoenix Suns did help facilitate a Damian Lillard trade, but it wasn’t the blockbuster deal that many believed was going to end up happening. The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t trade Lillard to the Toronto Raptors, who was a reported favorite heading into the week. They didn’t even trade him to the Miami Heat, Lillard’s original preferred destination.
Instead, the Blazers moved Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Suns, of all teams, helped make it happen. After months of speculation, the Suns finally traded Deandre Ayton (to the Blazers) in an attempt to add depth around their stars.
Here is the official deal:
Chipping in by sending Ayton to the Blazers in exchange for added depth, it’s safe to say that this move will end up being quite polarizing in the end for Phoenix. Depending on how this season plays out, this is a move that, I’d have to imagine, is going to be questioned for a while.
As the shockwaves continue to spread throughout the league, let’s try to break down what this trade ultimately means for the Suns now that it is completed.
Instant reactions to the Phoenix Suns trading Deandre Ayton
1. The success of this season could hinge on Jusuf Nurkic’s health
While all the headlines entering the season will revolve around Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal, and rightfully so, I can’t help but speculate how important Jusuf Nurkic’s help will end up being for Phoenix.
One area of the roster construction that hurt the Suns’ last season was the lack of depth. And part of the reasoning behind moving Ayton revolved around that. But if Nurkic can’t stay healthy, this deal becomes a bust pretty quickly. Nurkic hasn’t played more than 60 games in a season since the 2018-19 campaign.
I’d be concerned that Nurkic may not be as durable as Ayton was for Phoenix, and that could be a big problem for a championship-or-bust team that is thin in the frontcourt.