Pacific Notes: Ayton, Suns, Irving, Lakers, Warriors

Suns restricted free agent Deandre Ayton received support from his teammates this week, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Key players Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson expressed hope Ayton will return next season, although recent reports suggest it’s still unclear.

“From my perspective, personally, definitely somebody I always want on my team,” Johnson said. “We want all of our guys (to stay). What we’ve been able to build, what we’ve been able to go through together these last couple of years has meant a lot to us. You kind of bond with a guy in a big way going through that process together.”

The Suns won a franchise-record 64 games this season, but lost to the Mavericks in seven games during the second round. Phoenix has the right to match any offer sheet Ayton signs with a rival club. If Ayton prefers to leave, the team could also work out a sign-and-trade agreement.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific:

  • Suns general manager James Jones remains optimistic Ayton will stay, Rankin writes in a different article for the Arizona Republic. “Nothing has changed on our end,” Jones explained. “We haven’t said anything different. DA remains a huge part of what we do and he’s a free agent. So we’ll talk about free agency when that time comes, but that hasn’t changed. I think you hear his teammates. They echo the same sentiment that we have. This team is a really good team and we’re going to keep it together.” 
  • Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register explores Kyrie Irving‘s uncertain situation, posing four questions the Lakers should ask themselves before pursuing him. While Irving may fit well on the court, the Lakers could struggle to acquire him. If Irving declines of his $36.5MM player option and seeks a multi-year deal, the team currently doesn’t have the cap space to sign him. If he opts in, offering an appealing trade package to Brooklyn without involving a third or fourth team would be difficult.
  • In a story for Yahoo Sports, Vincent Goodwill examines how the Warriors revived their dynasty. Golden State welcomed back a healthy Klay Thompson this season, adding him to a core of Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and others. The result was a fourth championship in the past eight seasons for the franchise.
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