A year ago, Deandre Ayton got the contract he deserved. Now he’s going to a team that may better appreciate his contributions.
Lillard goes Milwaukee as part of a 3-team deal with Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, a 2029 unprotected MIL 1st, and unprotected MIL swap rights in 2028 and 2030 to Blazers. Phoenix lands Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson. https://t.co/Ge0H91AiIA— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2023
he 25-year-old Ayton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Suns, where he played for five seasons and averaged 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds. This past season Ayton averaged 18 and 10 while starting 67 games for Phoenix, which was bounced in the NBA Western Conference semifinals.
Last summer Ayton signed a 4-year, $133 million contract with the Indiana Pacers, but as a restricted free agent the Suns were able to match that offer.
With Portland, Ayton will be joining a franchise that will be in rebuilding mode with the departure of longtime star Lillard, who played for the Blazers for 11 seasons. Portland went 27-55 in 2022-23 under second-year coach Chauncey Billups and picked second in the 2023 Draft, taking guard Scoot Henderson with the third overall pick.
Ayton played at the UA for one season, in 2017-18, averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds on a team that won the Pac-12 regular-season and conference tournament titles but then was upset by Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.