Phoenix Suns fans can finally move on from Deandre Ayton after five seasons of being the team’s starting center. He had great moments early on but failed to follow through after being picked first overall by the Suns back in 2018.
Now, fans can focus on the team’s new “Big 3” and their new starting center, Jusuf Nurkic. Don’t get me wrong, Nurkic is a decent starting center. But he’s not an upgrade.
Looking back, the Suns could’ve traded Ayton for someone better, especially on the defensive end.
Despite the Bahamian center not being the best player in his draft class, he can still bring a lot to the table. In fact he’s already showed some nice flashes on the court in his brief time with the Trail Blazers.
The trade wasn’t terrible, but I wish the Suns could’ve gotten a better return package. After all, the team is gunning for a maiden NBA title this season. From a different perspective, the trade involving Rudy Gobert during the summer of 2022 played a huge role in Ayton’s value in the market.
Last summer, the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves surprised the league with a monster trade. The Wolves gave up Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Walker Kessler, and four future first-round picks in order to acquire Gobert.
Minnesota gave up a massive chunk of their assets and barely reached the playoffs last season. If it weren’t for the heroics of Anthony Edwards, they wouldn’t have made it to the postseason at all.
Gobert wasn’t much of a difference for his new squad as his numbers dropped. During his first season in Minnesota, he averaged 13.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. Not to mention, his blocks went down from 2.1 to 1.4. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner looking like a regular starting center last season.
It isn’t a knock on the French big man, but giving up an immense amount of assets for a starting center who doesn’t have a post-move is a terrible deal. With his numbers last season, it’s clear that the Wolves lost the trade as they didn’t improve as a team.
While most will argue that Karl-Anthony Towns’ prolonged absence last season was the reason for their finish in the Western Conference, they still had two other All-Stars who should’ve made a massive impact on the floor. The team didn’t improve and even gave up on plenty of their assets.
Even former Suns superstar, Charles Barkley, wasn’t a fan of the Gobert trade and believes it’s the worst deal in the league’s history saying – “The Timberwolves made the worst trade in NBA history… that was so stupid that trade.”
Ayton’s trade value should’ve never dropped. He’s a great prospect. It just happened that his effort was constantly in question. He wasn’t enjoying his time with the Suns as he butted heads with the previous head coach, Monty Williams.
Additionally, his name was often in trade rumors, which could’ve caused him to be uncomfortable being on the team. Now, he’ll have a fresh start with the Portland Trail Blazers, a team with notable prospects. It’ll take a while until the trade market has a balance on future transactions.