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“Suns Don’t Actually Want Him”: Months After “No Fans” Claims, Kevin Durant’s $132M Teammate Gets Harsh Treatment From Fans Amid Trade Rumors

Published 09/24/2023, 8:06 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The Phoenix Suns are in a tough spot. They still do not have a championship title. Last season the team lost in the Conference semifinals against the Nuggets. This entire off-season the Suns are trying to make a formidable line-up in the Western Conference. This year in February they acquired Kevin Durant and T. J. Warren from the Brooklyn Nets for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four future first-round picks, and a pick swap. They also acquired Bradley Beal, who is one of the top Shooting guards in the NBA currently. Devin Booker makes the roster even stronger. 

However, one key player has been linked to trade rumors in a multi-team deal that is being shaped by Damian Lillard’s trade saga.

DeAndre Ayton says that he wants to change the narrative 

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Deandre Ayton has been with the Suns since 2018. In his rookie season, Ayton averaged 16.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and that year the Suns reached the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Ayton continued to improve in his second season, averaging 18.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. However, in the last season, he missed out on an important game due to injury. He missed the game 6 of elimination loss against the Nuggets.

USA Today via Reuters

Since his injury, Ayton has been getting harsh treatment from fans. To a point where he himself feels like he is yet to make a mark. He hopes to change the narrative in his new season. In an interview, he says, “I feel like I have no fans out there and I can feel it because the whole world is saying it. My goal is over the summer is to change the narrative. Just unlock whatever it is and just completely just focus on me and change the whole thing.”

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The Suns do not have assets to keep Damian Lillard alongside KD and Beal. According to rumors, the Blazers may be interested in moving Jusuf Nurkic in exchange for $132 Million Ayton.

Fans React to Ayton’s Possible Departure

The news of Ayton’s potential trade has elicited a variety of reactions from fans. 

Some believe that the Suns didn’t want him, which is why they let him go to Restricted Free Agency. “He doesn’t want to be in Phoenix and the Suns don’t actually want him, that’s why they let him go to RFA and sign the biggest offer sheet in NBA history (every other player of his caliber gets extended a year before),” a fan said. “Phoenix now wants to use that contract and his value to get someone else.”

USA Today via Reuters

Some believe that Ayton can go against Nikola Jokic. “He averaged 11 and 8 against Jokic who people thought couldn’t play defense (and averaged 34/13/10 on him),” a fan reacted. Another chimed in the conversation and counter-argued by saying, “The Jokic defense thing is mainly on pick and rolls, he has pretty decent defense vs other bigs.”

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Another fan mentions why the Suns are so much interested in moving him: “If the Suns extended Ayton with the five year max, they couldn’t take on another five-year max contract — a team could only hold two players with those deals, no matter how that player would be acquired. Keeping Ayton at four years would have been a flexibility move to hang onto him and potentially flip other players and picks for a superstar, as eventually happened. I THINK that was the Suns’ play.”

Someone supported this sentiment by saying that, “The thing is, Ayton is essentially Phoenix’s only asset now they are willing to part with. They aren’t about to make a 1 for 1 trade here, they’ll get something good out of it if they pull the trigger.”

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It remains to be seen what happens with this trade though Ayton’s journey in the NBA is far from over. If he stays back, the only way to win the credibility of both the teams and fans is winning a championship.

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Written by:

Chetan Kumar

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Chetan is an NBA content writer at Essentially Sports. Being an active basketball player since his school days, he has always been a dedicated follower of the NBA. His passion for the game has drove him to pursue a career in sports journalism.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo