The Phoenix Suns were never interested in offering starting center Deandre Ayton a max-contract extension, so it looks like they’ll work out a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner so they get something back in return.
Both Brian Windhorst from ESPN and Shams Charania from The Athletic indicate that a deal is imminent. The Pacers are finalizing the paperwork for the Malcom Brogdon trade with the Boston Celtics, and after wrapping up that swap, they can focus on the nitty-gritty of an Ayton trade.
The Suns were the best team in the NBA during the regular season with a 64-18 record and secured the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They were eliminated from the postseason by the Dallas Mavericks in the conference semifinals during a disastrous Game 7 blowout. In that surprise rout at home, head coach Monty Williams benched Ayton in the second half for internal reasons. At that point, it was fairly obvious that had Ayton played his last game with the Suns.
The Suns are +600 odds to win the 2023 NBA Championship and are currently second on DraftKings’ futures board. The Pacers are at the bottom of the board at +10000 odds.
If the Suns sign and trade Ayton, it would pretty much put them out of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. However, it looks like they weren’t really in the running for Durant anyway. The initial pitch for Durant involved Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and draft picks. The Nets aren’t keen on Ayton and really don’t want him as the center point of a trade package for Durant.
At the same time, the Suns would have to give up too much to actually acquire Durant. The Suns won’t give up Devin Booker — the face and future of the franchise — and Chris Paul is too old and expensive. Without Ayton in the mix, the Nets would want everyone else available, such as Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Jae Crowder. That would gut the team and leave the Suns with Booker, CP3, and Durant, plus a bunch of lo-fi castoffs and min-contract players.
The Suns were the betting favorite to land Durant in a trade at -125 odds, with the Toronto Raptors second on the board at +250 odds. DraftKings has taken down that prop bet, so it looks like the bookies are anticipating a Suns/Pacers sign-and-trade for Ayton to happen sometime soon.
If the Suns trade Ayton to the Pacers, the Raptors seem like the most likely landing spot for Durant in a trade with the Nets. The Raptors have the right combination of draft picks and young players to send to Brooklyn, like OG Anunoby and Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.
Turner wants out of Indy
Turner has grown frustrated with his role with the Pacers in the past couple of seasons, especially on offense. He’s a strong defender — especially in pick-and-rolls — and a top-notch rim protector. He believes he’s sacrificed his offense to focus on defense and thinks he can provide more of an offensive punch while still providing stellar defense.
Turner missed half of last season while recovering from a foot injury. In 42 games with the Pacers, he shot 51% from the floor while averaging 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. Two seasons ago, the solid rim protector averaged 3.4 blocks per game. He’s also a career- 35% shooter from 3-point range.
If the Pacers and Suns pull off this sign-and-trade for Ayton, then Turner will have the opportunity to play for a championship contender while expanding his role as a two-way player with the Suns.
The Pacers decided to reboot the team last season after ditching key starters like All-Star Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings and Caris LeVert to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They traded Brogdon this summer, and an unhappy Turner is also on their list of impending transactions.
The new-look Pacers have a young team that includes Buddy Hield, Tyreese Haliburton — the betting favorite to win the 2023 NBA Most Improved Player — and incoming rookie Bennedict Mathurin, who was the #6 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
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