The Phoenix Suns‘ season ended in disappointment Thursday night with a 125-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets, and big changes could be ahead.
The organization is reportedly “expected to aggressively explore the trade market” for big man Deandre Ayton, the team’s first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Ayton averages 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in his five-year career, but there has long been a rift between him and the organization.
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Ayton and head coach Monty Williams have had a rocky relationship since last year, and contract negotiations last year did not go well until Phoenix had no choice but to match the Indiana Pacers’ $133 million offer to the restricted free agent.
The 24-year-old was benched in Game 3 of the Suns’ series against Denver after going just 2-for-6 from the floor. And he missed their last game of the season with a rib injury.
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ESPN reports that Ayton is welcome to a deal and “would be excited about a fresh start” with a new team.
There also is speculation around the league that Chris Paul has played his final game with the Suns. The future Hall of Famer missed the last four games with a groin injury, and his $30.8 million salary becomes fully guaranteed June 28.
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In the series against the Nuggets, Ayton averaged 10.8 points and 8.2 boards per contest.