As Fischer outlines, Ayton’s restricted free agency has been stalled in part because he could theoretically be an outgoing piece in a Suns deal for Durant and also because teams with interest in both players – including Toronto – won’t want to give up assets in a sign-and-trade for Ayton before seeing what happens with Durant.
According to Fischer, the Pacers and Raptors have been the teams most frequently linked to Ayton, with the Jazz described as a less likely destination for the young center. The Pacers and Spurs are the only teams that have the cap flexibility necessary to realistically extend an offer sheet to Ayton. It’s unclear whether he’d rather try to pursue a deal with one of them or wait for a possible sign-and-trade opportunity to a team closer to contention, Fischer says.
One hypothetical scenario is a multi-team trade that sends Durant to Phoenix; Ayton to Indiana in a sign-and-trade; and Myles Turner, multiple Suns wings, and draft capital to Brooklyn. However, Fischer hears from sources that such a package is unlikely to meet the Nets’ high asking price for Durant.
Here’s more from Fischer:
- League personnel have begun to discuss the possibility of the Nets simply hanging onto Durant and Kyrie Irving into the regular season, according to Fischer. “Rudy Gobert getting traded for an arm, a leg and two mountains is helping their cause. There’s no way the Nets will ever trade Kevin Durant for anything less than what Rudy Gobert got Utah,” a Western Conference executive told Fischer. “If nothing comes, I can see them saying (to the players), ‘We just all have to come back.’ If I’m them, I just try to string this out as long as possible.”
- As has been previously reported, there’s skepticism that the Suns will be able to build a package that appeals to the Nets without getting at least one more team involved. “Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and five picks still isn’t enough to me for KD,” one GM said to Bleacher Report.
- Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation tell Fischer that the Raptors remain unwilling to part with Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.
- Fischer’s league sources “strongly discounted” the idea that either the Mavericks or Sixers is a serious suitor for Irving. The Lakers remain Brooklyn’s most obvious trade partner for Kyrie, but there’s a sense that they may need to involve a third team to meet the Nets‘ asking price — a package of Russell Westbrook and draft assets wouldn’t maximize Brooklyn’s chances of contending in the short term, Fischer explains.