A major shakeup could be coming for the Atlanta Hawks.
Specifically, they could have an entirely different frontcourt going into next season, their first full season under Quin Snyder.
“The Suns are indeed having conversations with several teams regarding Deandre Ayton,” tweeted CBS Sports and Fox Suns insider Felix Cruz Boston and Atlanta are two teams I’m told to keep an eye on regarding Ayton with the Suns looking to build depth after acquiring Bradley Beal from Washington.”
This is not the first time that the Hawks have been linked to the embattled former No. 1 overall pick who even played his college ball at the University of Arizona. They were linked to him around this time last year too.
“Ayton has been a popular rumored target for [former teams president Travis] Schlenk’s front office,” wrote Jake Fischer for Bleacher Report in May of 2022.
Schlenk is gone, now helping oversee a rebuild with the Washington Wizards. But it appears that Ayton may have had more fans than just the Schlenk and could still find his way to Atlanta one year after the Suns made him find another team (the Indiana Pacers) to give him his four-year, $132.9 million contract before matching the offer sheet.
Phoenix has committed virtually all of its draft capital for the foreseeable future in trades to acquire Beal from Washington and Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets. The Hawks are flirting with paying the luxury tax for a team that went 41-41 last season.
Changes could certainly be coming.
Ayton, 24, averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists this pasts season, his fifth straight campaign averaging a double-double.
But his playoff struggles were pronounced with images of Ayton seemingly quitting on plays and generally giving less than 100% effort staining opinions of the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, the same class that yielded Hawks star Trae Young.
3-Team blockbuster trade lands Deandre Ayton on Atlanta Hawks.
The Suns are said to have warmed to the idea of taking on John Collins who has three years and more than $78 million left on his contract but getting a deal involving him and Ayton gets complicated with the Hawks needing to add salary to satisfy league rules. They could use one of their trade exceptions but there is another way.
If the Hawks involved a third team, there is a chance they could add Ayton while shedding $4.6 million off the bottom line.
The Hawks and Dallas Mavericks have already held trade talks regarding Collins, Davis Bertans, and a swap of first-round picks, Fischer reported on June 16,” adding that the Mavs would prefer to bring Clint Capela back in the deal.
Dallas’ only role in the Ayton trade is helping ease the financial burden on Atlanta and Phoenix.
Atlanta doesn’t have to include Onyeka Okongwu in this deal. But bringing Ayton in would likely mean the end of his time in Atlanta.
The Hawks would also have to avoid handing him an extension – a situation that has led to mixed results in the last few instances. Ayton also fits closer to what Snyder had in Rudy Gobert with the Utah Jazz as the Hawks transition to fit the vision of the new(ish) head coach over the offseason and into the 2023-24 campaign.