The saga between the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton may never really end, at least if it were up to the internet.
Both sides, after the organization quickly matched an offer sheet to keep Ayton in the Valley, were adamant that the past was in the past as both were looking forward to a new season.
Yet that hasn't stopped speculation that Ayton may be shipped elsewhere, especially after Jan. 15 when Phoenix would be able to move him (despite Ayton have a veto clause for the first year of his deal).
In their most recent article piecing together blockbuster trade ideas, Ayton gets a fresh start in the Windy City while the Suns receive a considerable haul back in this Bleacher Report mock trade:
Chicago Bulls Receive: C Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns Receive: C Nikola Vucevic, G Coby White, 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected via Portland Trail Blazers)
"Both Ayton and Vucevic seem far from settled with their teams," said Greg Swartz.
"Ayton had to sign an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers to get a max deal from Phoenix, something the Suns refused to give him before last season. Vucevic is entering the final year of his contract, and with Chicago ranking just 23rd in defense in 2021-22, the Bulls may be looking for better rim-protecting options in the middle.
"Ayton held opponents to 55.5 percent shooting at the rim compared to Vucevic's 63.8 percent rate, a noticeable difference, especially over the course of a season. He's also the younger of the two at 24 and is under contract for the next four seasons.
"With so many talented ball-handlers in Chicago, Ayton should thrive as a pick-and-roll partner next to DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and others.
"For Phoenix, getting a two-time All-Star back at center is a nice replacement for Ayton. Vucevic, 31, isn't as good defensively, but he's the superior passer and three-point shooter who provides better overall floor spacing for Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
"White, 22, is an upgrade over Cameron Payne as Paul's backup and will be a restricted free agent in 2023, so Phoenix can match any deal he receives. Getting an extra first-round selection gives the Suns lots of trade flexibility, as Phoenix is one of only four NBA teams to not have any future picks owed to them from a previous deal.
"A core of Booker, Paul, Vucevic, Mikal Bridges and White is still capable of winning a title and would have an extra first-rounder to use in a future trade.
"Pick is lottery-protected in 2023 through 2028 and turns into 2028 second-round pick if not conveyed."
If the Suns aren't married to Ayton, this actually may not be a bad trade. Vucevic is a very capable center that should be able to mesh with what Phoenix runs, while adding Coby White as another option in the backcourt is something the Suns have been trying to do all offseason.
Sprinkle in the draft pick (although lottery-protected) and you've got yourself quite the haul the Suns' front office would have to mull over.
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