1 Monumental Move The Suns Must Make This Offseason
At the conclusion of the 2021-22 NBA regular season, the Phoenix Suns were sitting pretty.
They finished 64-18, good for the top seed in the Western Conference by a sizeable eight games.
They ran into more resistance than expected in the first round against the New Orleans Pelicans, but they were a better team than their seed portrayed.
And Phoenix seemed poised to cruise to the WCF after going up 2-0 on the Dallas Mavericks.
That is where things went downhill quickly.
The Mavericks advance to the conference finals for the first time since their 2011 championship season by eviscerating the league’s No. 1 overall seed, Phoenix, on the Suns’ homecourt by 33 points in a Game 7. Mavs-Warriors figures to be a good, old-fashioned showdown.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 16, 2022
The Suns lost four of their next five games and their season was over in a flash.
A 33-point demolishing in Game 7 led to some tense postgame moments about how it all went so wrong.
Ayton, their seemingly prized young-stud center, only played 17 minutes and got a less-than-ringing endorsement from his head coach.
Those comments paired with the fact the team did not offer him a contract extension last offseason have made his future murky.
To reach the mountaintop next year, the Suns will need to make one big move.
Even if that move has been widely reported.
Suns Must Trade Ayton
All signs seem to point to Ayton being traded this offseason.
Phoenix clearly is not as enthralled with the talented seven-footer as his play would suggest.
Otherwise, they would have offered the top overall pick from the 2018 NBA draft an extension.
Something they already did with Bridges.
Ayton’s love of video games could also be the reason behind Phoenix not extending him.
The big man himself has admitted video games impact his sleep schedule, sometimes reducing him to just two hours of sleep per night.
If that is causing him to be lethargic, tired, or disengaged at practice and in games, the Suns could be fed up with it all.
Woj says Phoenix is “very motivated” to find a sign-and-trade for Deandre Ayton.
“They do not value [Ayton] on a max contract.”
— Adam Aaronson (@SixersAdam) June 23, 2022
And if that is the case, Phoenix must move on from their young center.
Offering a max contract extension to a center that is potentially more committed to virtual basketball than real basketball would be a huge misstep.
Instead, Ayton should be used to bolster the Phoenix bench with “16 game players“.
The Suns’ bench was a strength all season.
But in the postseason, they did not have that one guy who stepped up big off the bench.
The NBA is a league dominated by two-way wings.
Trading their star center in Ayton to bring in more depth on the wing or off the bench would be a smart play.