Part of the reason that the Phoenix Suns established themselves as the clear best team in the NBA during the regular season was the continued excellence of center Deandre Ayton. Unfortunately for Monty Williams’ team, the way they crashed out of the postseason might make teams like the Toronto Raptors more aggressive in pursuing Ayton.
Not only were Ayton in the Suns run off the floor by Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, but the former No. 1 overall pick saw just 17 minutes of game time. He didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter with the game firmly out of reach after Doncic’s offensive onslaught.
Suns coach Monty Williams discussed the decision to stick Ayton on the bench as an “internal” matter, which has prompted some speculation that there is some friction between the Bahamian big and the coaching staff. On the open market, Ayton could be the most desirable of all the 2022 free agents.
In a perfect world, Ayton would join the Raptors and give them one of the best young big men in the game. However, given the construction of both Phoenix’s and Toronto’s roster, the idea of Ayton leaving the Suns seems more unlikely than ever before. Sorry, Raptors fans.
The Toronto Raptors likely won’t sign Deandre Ayton.
The Suns must understand that the cliff is coming soon for Chris Paul despite his contract. The future of that team is not in Paul’s point guard skills, but in the 1-2 punch of Ayton on the inside and Devin Booker on the outside. Letting him test the open market would be hazardous.
While Toronto clearly needs a player like Ayton, they would spend the entirety of their remaining cap space to acquire him. This team still has multiple significant extensions to hand out to starters, and bringing in someone with Ayton’s financial demands could make it tough to retain everyone.
Both Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are extension-eligible this offseason, with the former potentially a free agent after 2023. Gary Trent Jr. could avoid taking his final player option, putting yet another free agent out there on the market. The eventual Scottie Barnes extension will eat up cap as well.
Ayton would plug so many holes on this Raptors team, but his asking price will be too stiff for this team to absorb at this point in time. He’ll likely be back with Phoenix at some point, so the Raptors need to immediately pivot away from him and move on to more cost-effective options.