The Phoenix Suns made a big splash at the trade deadline by acquiring Kevin Durant, but weren’t able to get past the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2023 NBA playoffs. New franchise owner Mat Ishbia has been aggressive in his control over the team, firing head coach Monty Williams after another embarrassing playoff exit. Williams’ departure is not expected to be the only change for the Suns this offseason.
Big man Deandre Ayton is almost certainly gone, despite his public comments about liking the city and team. Ayton’s effort was subpar in the postseason to put things lightly, and he would benefit from a change of scenery. The Pacers signed Ayton to an offer sheet last offseason but the Suns matched the contract. They’ll now to try to extract some value from him in the trade market. However, Ayton might not be the only player on the move.
Veteran point guard Chris Paul is also reportedly on the block. He was close with Williams, who is no longer on the team. He has durability issues late in the season, and the Suns appeared to play much better when Paul was off the floor in the playoffs. Devin Booker and Durant are running the show now, and Paul might not fit into the team’s plans during this championship window. He was responsible for elevating this group but might not be able to see the final product. Here’s a look at some potential trades involving Ayton and Paul.
Suns get: DeMar DeRozan
Bulls get: Deandre Ayton, 2026 first-round swap
Phoenix would probably like to get Alex Caruso in this deal as well, but the Suns don’t have enough draft compensation to offer and they’re unlikely to part with any of their other peripheral players. Ayton would benefit from a fresh start in Chicago, especially if the Bulls don’t bring back Nikola Vucevic. DeRozan has been important for the Bulls in bringing back some respectability, but he’s at the tail end of his career and probably needs to move for a shot at a championship. A core of DeRozan-Booker-Durant would be a great start for the Suns to build a contending group.
Suns get: Buddy Hield, Chris Duarte
Pacers get: Deandre Ayton, 2026 first-round swap
The Pacers had an interest in Ayton despite their loaded frontcourt, and Myles Turner being inked to a big deal might cause some second thoughts. However, Indiana does have some perimeter pieces who could fit well in Phoenix. Hield is great from behind the arc, while Duarte faces a lot of competition for minutes on the wing with the Pacers. He’ll benefit from more minutes in Phoenix. The Pacers get Ayton and a future pick swap. Ayton gets to go to the place he wanted to last summer. This feels like a win for everyone involved, although Indiana has less incentive to do a deal now.
Suns get: Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum
Clippers get: Chris Paul
Neither team has draft capital to deal, so for now we’ll keep this between players. The Clippers have several combinations of wing players they can offer in exchange for a reunion with Paul, who would serve as the point guard the team needs. Phoenix gets a great shooter in Powell and a secondary creator in Batum, which is especially helpful for the second unit. There are always hurdles when doing a trade between teams in the same division but this would be a solid return for Paul for the Suns.
Suns get: James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Furkan Korkmaz
76ers get: Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, 2024 first-round swap, 2026 first-round swap
Let’s get wild. Harden is rumored to be on the way out in Philadelphia, and the Suns are a potential destination. The 76ers can execute a sign-and-trade to get some value back for the guard. Paul would take over as the lead guard in Philly, while Ayton would be a good fallback option in the event of a Joel Embiid injury. It’s unclear if the two of them can play together, but the 76ers can flip Ayton if there’s issues. Tucker was a player Harden advocated for and could follow him to Phoenix. Korkmaz is looking to get out of Philadelphia. If Harden is going to be leaving, the 76ers might not have much leverage and could be backed into doing a sign-and-trade.