Bruce Cooper – Ayton trade needs to happen, roster shakeout candidates

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Story by Bruce Cooper (aka Coop)

Bold and decisive is the mindset the Suns front office must display in reshaping the Suns roster into that of a true contender. It starts by waiving and stretching Chris Paul and his contract, meaning his time with the Suns is over. This moves gives the Suns more roster flexibility. It gives them the ability to utilize both the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and bi-annual exception. When you also factor in their trade exception the Suns would have roughly $22-million to use relative to reshaping their roster.

Next the Suns must trade former number one overall draft pick Deandre Ayton. This can best be accomplished via a sign and trade to maximize the Suns value in return. Both of these moves are bold yet very much the right moves to make.

Here’s one way the Suns roster could/should shake out:

Suns acquire free agent (PF/SF) Kyle Kuzma (sign and trade) @ 4 yrs. $120m plus 2nd rd. 2023 draft pick (#42 overall) from Wizards in exchange for (C) Deandre Ayton.

Suns acquire free agent (SG/PG) Jordan Clarkson (sign and trade) @ 4 yrs. $72m in exchange for (SF) Landry Shamet, (PG) Cameron Payne and 2025 2nd rd. pick to Jazz.

Suns re-sign and trade (SF) Torrey Craig @ 2 yrs. $15m to Mavericks for (C) JaVale McGee.

Suns send their trade exception along with second round picks in 2024 and 2026 to Celtics for (PG) Payton Pritchard (Suns new starting point guard).

Suns spread $12.2 mid-level exception to sign T-Wolves free agent center Naz Reid (Suns new starting center) and Nuggets free agent center Thomas Bryant.

Suns use $4.5m bi-annual exception to sign Nets (SF) Yuta Watanabe.

Suns sign Nuggets free agent (PG) Ish Smith to veterans minimum.

Suns exercise bird rights to re-sign (PF) Darius Bazley.

Suns exercise bird rights to re-sign (SF/PF) Ish Wainright.

2023 NBA Draft:

Suns draft second round (PG/SG) Isaiah Wong—Miami, Fla. (via Wizards Pick #42)

Suns draft second round (SG/SF) Emoni Bates—Eastern Michigan (pick #52)

Suns 2023-24 Roster:

PG—Payton Pritchard, Ish Smith

SG—Devin Booker, Jordan Clarkson, Isaiah Wong

SF—Kyle Kuzma, Yuta Watanabe, Emoni Bates

PF—Kevin Durant, Darius Bazley, Ish Wainirght

C—-Naz Reid, Thomas Bryant, JaVale McGee