Suns legend Charles Barley has always felt that the Suns franchise wasn’t loving Deandre Ayton’s game. Now that he’s off to Portland after this Wednesday’s three-team deal that is taking superstar Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, the “NBA on TNT” analyst can finally weigh on the team’s decision to trade their former starting center for Jusuf Nurkic.
“Something was going on with Deandre Ayton,” Barkley reacted to the trade. “It goes back to there was an issue with Monty Williams and Deandre Ayton. Now clearly, it must have been something else going on in the organization. They clearly just wanted to get rid of him.”
Even though the 60-year-old admitted he was “not upset” with Phoenix’s choice and they remain a top-title contender for next season, he does believe that the Bucks are the new favorites to conquer a new ring.
“With the Suns, something was going on with Deandre Ayton. It goes back to there was an issue with Monty Williams and Deandre Ayton. Now it must have been something else going on in the organization. (Phoenix) clearly just wanted to get rid of him.” Charles Barkley on trade #Suns pic.twitter.com/iAuNsVR4cG
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) September 27, 2023
Last year was a good example of what Barkley is referring to. After one of Deandre’s best seasons in Arizona, they could of offered their big man a five-year, $180 million deal on the first day of 2022 free agency. However, instead they allowed him to enter restricted free agency and later matched a four-year, $133 million offer sheet sent by the Indiana Pacers.
“I’ve come to understand that this is a business,” Ayton said after he finally signed the deal to stay in Phoenix last year. “So, I was more anxious to know the end of the result so I could focus, move on and just get back to work. I just treated everything like a business. Just keep being professional, approach everything with professionalism and not looking too deep into it.”
It is possible that this campaign the Suns have the best team on the floor in franchise history, especially after they acquired former Wizards star Bradley Beal, and can place the three-time All-Star next to Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.
Also, Phoenix hired coach Frank Vogel, who has an championship-winning mentality and has led squads to the top defensive ratings in three different NBA seasons since 2012. Also, the team added wing Yuta Wannabe from Brooklyn and veteran star Eric Gordon, who is a former Sixth Man of the Year.
The Arizona press are still debating whether letting Ayton go was a ‘good or bad trade’, as they weigh into possible scenarios
Just as Dame’s trade was being announced by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski this Wednesday, the Arizona Sports panel was live on air and immediately went into details about the package deals involving the Suns.
“The Suns are selling low on Deandre Ayton,” said Kellan Olson on the podcast. “There’s a decent chance that Deandre will kill it in Portland next season and the Suns will look foolish for doing this, rather quickly. There’s also a chance that it doesn’t really work out in Portland, there as well, and all the flaws and inconsistencies in Deandre’s game in the past 5 years, are better off being somewhere off else and the Suns benefit from it with some addition by subtraction.”
In the video above, check out their entire discussion over the arrival of Jusuf Nurkic and Ayton’s departure.
“I’m somewhere in the middle, but clearly they might bet borderline high on the court by the breath of fresh air that they are gonna feel now, not having to wonder if their franchise center is gonna be locked in on a night-to-night basis,” reporter Olson concluded.