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Opinion: Trading Ayton for package including this Raptors’ player is a no-brainer

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We have all heard the rumors now that the Suns could be trading Deandre Ayton to the Blazers for Jusuf Nurkić when the Damian Lillard trade goes down.

However, it would make no sense to do a one-for-one swap between the two players with Ayton set to make $32.459 million and Nurkić due $16.785 million this season.

The only way the trade would make sense is if the Suns got two pieces for one for Ayton. With the Raptors now reportedly being the frontrunner to land Lillard, the Suns have a chance to make a huge upgrade to their team. Phoenix has been reported to be a team that could help facilitate a Lillard trade.

OG Anunoby

About a week before the Suns traded for Kevin Durant last season, there were rumblings that the Suns were pursuing Raptors’ forward OG Anunoby. Now, it seems like a no-brainer for the Suns to attempt to trade for him.

In 67 games played and started last season, the 6-foot-7 Anunoby averaged 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals. The 26-year-old Indiana product also shot 46.7% from the floor and 38.7% for deep. His play landed him on the NBA Second Team All-Defense. Anunoby was also apart of the Raptors’ team that won the 2019 NBA Finals.

Anunoby is set to make $18.652 million in the 2023-24 season. A package of him and Nurkić would work perfectly money-wise. The Suns can only take in 110% of Ayton’s salary in a trade, and Nurkić and Anunoby combine to make $35.437 million. This figure just works for Ayton, as 110% of his salary is $35.7 million.

Landing Anunoby as the fifth starter along with Nurkić would greatly benefit the Suns and give them a coveted young 3-and-D player with major breakout potential.

Earlier this offseason, there were reports that teams were offering four-first round picks for Anunoby, similar to what the Nets were offered for Mikal Bridges from the Grizzlies. The Raptors ultimately did not end up taking them.

So why would the Raptors be willing to deal him now, and why would the Suns be able to get him over the Blazers?

Why the Suns could land Anunoby

Anunoby is entering the last year of his contract before he has a player option for the 2024-25 season. The Raptors could be looking into trading him to help take in some of Lillard’s salary. They could also keep their most-coveted star in Pascal Siakam.

The Blazers already have a similar young player in Shaedon Sharpe and just signed Jerami Grant to a long-term contract extension this offseason. They also reportedly have interest in acquiring Toronto’s first-round pick from this year, Gradey Dick. The Blazers also have reported interest in Ayton.

This seems to good to be true for the Suns to make it happen. Suns’ owner Mat Ishbia and GM James Jones gave the Nets and the Wizards everything that the two teams wanted for Durant and Bradley Beal.

This being said, the sense of urgency to get this Damian Lillard trade done by next Monday’s (Oct. 2) media day could help the Suns squeeze themselves into helping facilitate this trade.

If the Raptors could acquire Damian Lillard for just Dick, maybe one or two more players and some picks to the Trailblazers, while facilitating a three-team trade in which Phoenix lands Nurkić and Anunoby in exchange for Ayton to the Trail Blazers, Suns’ fans could be in for a treat this season.

Should the Suns trade or keep Deandre Ayton?

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Brendan Mau is a Phoenix Suns insider and college sports reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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