Phoenix Suns unable to trade into NBA Draft, gear up for free agency with Deandre Ayton
The Phoenix Suns ended up still on the outside of the 2022 NBA Draft in Brooklyn.
Sun’s General Manager James Jones said after Thursday’s draft they weren’t able to execute possible trades. Phoenix didn’t have a pick going into the draft.
“There are a number of guys that we targeted,” Jones said during a Zoom media session. “Just the deals that we had, they didn’t come together, but I thought that the draft had some quality depth at similar positions. Ultimately, we weren’t able to execute some of those trades and we just look forward to free agency .”
Deandre Ayton is arguably the hottest name entering free agency, as a restricted free agent. The Suns can match any offer sheet up to the max (four years, $131 million) and pay him more than anyone else (five years, $177 million), but there have been reports they’re looking to sign and trade their starting center.
Free agency is set to begin next week.
“Nothing has changed on our end,” Jones said. “We haven’t said anything different. DA remains a huge part of what we do and he’s a free agent. So we’ll talk about free agency when that time comes, but that hasn’t changed. I think you hear his teammates . They echo the same sentiment that we have. This team is a really good team and we’re going to keep it together.”
Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson both said before JaVale McGee’s JUGLIFE charity softball game at Chase Field they want Ayton to remain in Phoenix.
“Of course, that’s my guy,” Bridges said. “That’s my best friend. Definitely don’t want him going anywhere else.”
The Suns entered the draft without a pick as they traded their 2022 first-round pick two years ago along with four players, including Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ricky Rubio to Oklahoma City, in acquiring All-Star veteran point guard Chris Paul.
The move greatly led to Phoenix reaching the NBA Finals in Paul’s first season last year with the Suns, and winning a franchise-record 64 games in the 2021-22 season.
Entering this year’s draft, the Suns brought in players viewed as second-round prospects in Jaylin Williams (Arkansas), Javon Freeman-Liberty (DePaul), Keve Aluma (Virginia) and Marcus Weathers (SMU) this month for a predraft workout.
That alone led signaled the Suns may trade their way back into the draft. The Thunder ended up drafting the 6-10 Williams with the 34th overall pick.
“He’s an extremely versatile, dynamic big guy,” Jones said. “He has great hands. Great instincts and can play at the top of the key with the ball. He’s a playmaker at the big position, which is a commodity for most teams in today’s NBA. In the modern game, you need bigs that can make reads and be playmakers and he was that in college and I think he’ll do that well in the NBA.”
The Lakers initially didn’t have a pick in the 2022 draft, but acquired Orlando’s 35th overall pick in the second round for a future second-round pick and cash Thursday.
Los Angeles drafted Michigan State guard Maxi Christie.
The Cavaliers acquired the 49th overall pick from the Sacramento Kings for cash considerations and the draft rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov.
With that pick, Cleveland chose USC big Isaiah Mobley, the older brother of Cavaliers big Evan Mobley, who made NBA All-Rookie first team this season.
Phoenix has a recent history of making trades for cash.
They acquired Torrey Craig before the 2021 trade deadline from Milwaukee for cash considerations and got Aaron Holiday from Washington before the 2022 trade deadline for cash.
Have an opinion on the current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
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