We're less than a month away from NBA free agency, and talks around Phoenix Suns center have already hit points where fans are simply excited to put all of the speculation to rest when a decision is made.
We haven't reached that point quite yet, as Suns faithful (much like Phoenix and other teams around the league) will continue to weigh Ayton's pros and cons against each other.
At the moment, the general consensus is Ayton will be moved in a trade that sends him elsewhere.
With that in mind, majority of mock trades you'll see involving Ayton will see some center on their way to Phoenix.
Would the Suns even want a center back in a deal for Ayton?
Arizona Sports 98.7 FM host John Gambadoro explored this topic when Burns and Gambo hosted Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer for a segment recently.
As it turns out, Gambadoro believes the Suns are willing to move away from Ayton's profile and price tag.
"You got about $30 million going out but they could only take back $19 million. But the team that trades for Deandre has to move out at least $24 million, and the Suns can't take back $24 million, they can only take back $19 million. So that way there has to be a third team involved, there has to be other players involved. I don't think that a (Jonas) Valančiūnas or a (Jusuf) Nurkic, I don't think the Suns (would be interested). I think they're getting away from that," said Gambadoro.
"I don't think they want (to pay a traditional center), they're gonna go center by committee. They've still got Dario Saric, they could resign (JaVale) McGee. So all these teams that are talking about bringing in a center, I think it's more an OG (Anunoby) or a trade with Indiana, or a trade with Detroit for like a versatile wing-type player. I don't see a big center coming back as a centerpiece in any trade for Deandre."
Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer agreed by saying, "I think what really started to shift the thought of, 'Deandre's gonna actually be available this summer' is because ever since they brought back Bismack Biyombo basically off the street, you started hearing a lot of executives say that Phoenix executives were pretty openly saying, 'Man, Chris Paul is so good. If we can just get a replacement level rim-runner, we'll be fine.'"
When does positional value come into play?
Ayton's potential to grow and athleticism for his position makes him an intriguing prospect on any team within the next few seasons, but should the Suns take a cap-friendly approach to the situation, Gambadoro has a point.
With a strong core, the Suns might be better off allotting that money to reinforcements elsewhere and retaining the likes of Biyombo, McGee or another cheap option.
The Suns could re-sign McGee
Do the Suns benefit from Ayton's presence on the court? Yes. Can the Suns live without Ayton on the floor? We've yet to see, but with talented scattered at every other position, Phoenix should be fine grabbing a serviceable big man and march forward with their plans.
The Suns also might shift towards a "positionless" squad and add a versatile forward to the lineup in place of Ayton. The possibilities are aplenty for general manager James Jones, who (rumor has it) doesn't value centers in terms of handing over a max contract.
Any trade that makes the Suns a better team should be welcomed, regardless of which positions are or aren't filled.
However, don't be surprised if Phoenix asks for other chess pieces on the board when moving their center elsewhere.
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