Toumani Camara

Toumani Camara To Miss Rest Of Season After Rib Injury

Trail Blazers rookie Toumani Camara will miss the rest of the 2023/24 season after suffering a rib injury, according to team PR (Twitter link). Camara exited the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s matchup with the Hawks and further testing showed that he fractured his left rib and has a small laceration in his kidney, per the team.

According to the team, Camara spent time in a hospital in Atlanta for further observation but is improving and has been released. He’s expected to make a full recovery after missing the rest of this season.

Camara, 23, was the 52nd overall pick in the 2023 draft by the Suns out of Dayton. He was then re-routed to the Blazers in the three-team deal that sent Damian Lillard to the Bucks.

Camara made an impact right away in his rookie season, finishing the year averaging 7.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 45.0% from the floor in 70 appearances (49 starts). He was one of the only constants in a tumultuous season for Portland — he led the team in games played and is one of just four Blazers to have made 60 or more appearances.

Camara might not make an All-Rookie team, but he was certainly one of the more impressive rookies this year. He ranked seventh in rebounds per game among all first-year players, as well as ranking 19th in points per game. He, Chet Holmgren and Cason Wallace are currently the only rookies with 70 or more appearances, though that will surely change before the season ends.

The remaining seasons of Camara’s four-year rookie deal are non-guaranteed, but his 2024/25 minimum salary will become guaranteed if he’s on the roster past July 20.

Northwest Notes: Trail Blazers, Henderson, Gobert, George

The Trail Blazers started five rookies in tonight’s game against Denver, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. The lineup consisted of Scoot Henderson, Kris Murray, Rayan Rupert, Toumani Camara and Duop Reath, marking only the second time that a team has started five first-year players since the NBA began tracking starters in 1970/71. The 2012 Warriors were the first, according to a tweet from the Blazers.

The move was necessitated by the team’s lengthy injury list, which grew even longer when guard Anfernee Simons had to leave Friday’s game in the third quarter after hurting his left knee. Coach Chauncey Billups told reporters that Simons will undergo an MRI on Sunday.

Deandre Ayton missed Friday’s game with tendinitis in his left elbow, which is also keeping him out tonight. Jerami Grant is already sidelined with a hamstring issue, and Malcolm Brogdon has been out of action since early February with elbow tendinitis. Billups expressed hope that Grant and Brogdon can return before the end of the season.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Friday marked Henderson’s best performance since suffering a groin injury during the Rising Stars game at All-Star Weekend, observes Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (subscription required). The No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, who posted 24 points, five rebounds, 10 assists and two steals in the Trail Blazers‘ loss to the Clippers, talked about his experience with the “rookie wall.” “It’s a longer season now, so you kind of get that wall a little later,” Henderson said. “After 50 games in the G League, you’re like, ‘OK, let’s play another one.’ But when you hit 50 or 60 [in the NBA], it’s a little tougher now.”
  • Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert is determined to not let the pain from a sprained rib keep him out of the lineup, per Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops“You got to embrace the pain sometimes. Sometimes the pain of watching hurts more than the pain of the injury itself,” Gobert said. “It is all about playing through that. As long as I can move, able to impact the game, I am going to be out there.”
  • The Timberwolves fired a team employee this week for stealing thousands of files, some of which contained “strategic NBA information,” according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Somak Sarkar was charged with felony third-degree burglary.
  • Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune examines the high turnover rate for Jazz rookie guard Keyonte George and how it might impact his NBA future.

Northwest Notes: THT, Sexton, Murray, Camara, Sharpe

After an up-and-down start to the season that saw them primarily coming off the bench, Jazz guards Talen Horton-Tucker and Collin Sexton have been inserted into the starting lineup with Keyonte George and Jordan Clarkson injured and are playing their best basketball of the season, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Horton-Tucker has averaged 20.3 points and 6.5 assists in his past four games (three starts), with a shooting line of .484/.389/.824. Sexton, meanwhile, has put up 25.6 PPG and 4.0 APG in his past five, with a scorching-hot shooting line of .506/.406/.900.

The results when the two guards have shared the court have also been more encouraging as of late. In Utah’s first 23 games of the season, the team had a -6.3 net rating in the 267 minutes that Horton-Tucker and Sexton played together. In the past five games, the duo has spent 91 minutes on the court together and the team has a +10.8 net rating in that time.

“I get a kick out of the dynamic between the two,” head coach Will Hardy said, per Larsen. “I mean, they argue like brothers when they’re on the bench. It’s really funny. I come back to the timeouts frequently and hear them going back and forth in a spirited, healthy way about whatever’s going on on the court.”

“It’s actually kind of funny, because everybody, like, my family and my teammates, they’re always thinking me and Collin are arguing. We’re never arguing,” Horton-Tucker clarified. “We’re both trying to help each other. If I see something that he did wrong, he sees something that I could help him with, he’s always going to come tell me. Collin’s whole makeup is, like, intense. You never know if he’s yelling or just having a regular conversation with you.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • With Jamal Murray back in his home country of Canada on Wednesday night to face the Raptors, Eric Koreen of The Athletic takes a look at how the Nuggets guard has established himself as a star without ever earning an All-Star berth, while Josh Lewenberg of notes (via Twitter) that Murray reiterated his desire to play for the Canadian national team at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
  • An overlooked part of the three-team blockbuster that sent Damian Lillard to Milwaukee, Trail Blazers rookie Toumani Camara has emerged as a regular starter and a reliable defender for his new team, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic, who says that Camara’s inclusion in that deal was one of the final sticking points between Portland and Phoenix. The fact that Camara is thriving in Portland is all the more improbable given that he and head coach Chauncey Billups agree that his pre-draft workout with the Blazers wasn’t great.“He didn’t look very good. He really didn’t. … He didn’t stand out,” Billups said. “… I can remember watching summer league, one of the first games, and … the kid is good! He’s really good. Active. Tough as heck. I didn’t really see that in the workout, which is why I always say you can’t put too much into a workout. You have to actually see a guy play (five-on-five).”
  • Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe, who missed the second half of Tuesday’s game due to a hip issue, has been ruled out for Thursday’s game vs. Washington due to right adductor soreness, according to the team (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether Sharpe will miss additional time beyond tonight’s contest.

Blazers’ Simons, Out Since Opener, Listed As Questionable Wednesday

Anfernee Simons could return to action on Wednesday for the first time since the Trail Blazers’ opener.

Simons is listed as questionable for Portland’s game against Golden State, Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report tweets. Head coach Chauncey Billups said on Monday that he’s hoping to have the guard available for the Blazers’ next game, per Casey Holdahl (Twitter link).

Simons suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb in the season-opening loss at the Clippers. He then underwent surgery on Oct. 31 with a general timetable of six weeks, so he’s a little bit ahead of schedule.

Simons is in the second season of a four-year, $100MM contract. He also missed a good chunk of time each of the past two seasons due to various injuries, appearing in 119 of a possible 164 games.

Simons has developed into an explosive scorer when healthy, averaging a career-high 21.1 points last season while posting a .447/.377/.894 shooting slash line. He also averaged a career-best 4.1 assists.

With Simons, second-year wing Shaedon Sharpe has played an average of 37 minutes per contest, averaging 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

Toumani Camara, a rookie second-rounder, has also gotten a chance to shine. He’s started in 10 of 19 games, averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 24.9 minutes.

Simons was considered a major trade chip this past summer, prior to the Damian Lillard blockbuster. His return will give Portland’s front office a full-fledged opportunity to evaluate which young players are keepers in the long term.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Camara, Fontecchio, Kessler, Kamagate

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, like Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels, was fined $25K for his role in an altercation early in a game between Minnesota and Golden State that ended with Draymond Green ejected and later suspended. However, according to The Star Tribune’s Chris Hine, Gobert wasn’t satisfied with the league’s ruling and said this week that he planned to appeal his fine.

You know every situation is different, but to me that was more than just a reaction,” Gobert said. “That was a personal attack. Me being fined when I chose to, when I was being a peacemaker and I chose to keep my hands up while I was being assaulted, is shameful. Shameful. And I’m gonna appeal that fine.

Immediately following Tuesday’s fracas, Gobert called Green out.

Clown behavior, and I’m proud of myself for being the bigger man again and again,” Gobert said after the altercation. “And yeah, [Green] doesn’t even deserve me putting my hands on him. My team needed me tonight. I did whatever I could to keep my cool and then show that I wasn’t making the situation worse, and I do hope that the league is going to do what needs to be done, because that’s just clown behavior. Not much to say. It’s clown behavior.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The 3-9 Trail Blazers have been searching for more physicality, size and rebounding in their starting lineup and may have found it in second-round rookie Toumani Camara, according to OregonLive’s Aaron Fentress. Camara has started the past three games for Portland, replacing Matisse Thybulle. While Portland lost all three games, Camara’s impressive rookie season is continuing. In his three starts, he’s averaging 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks. “Tou is going to be who he is going to be no matter if he’s starting or not,” head coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s going to be the same guy. He’s going to scrap, he’s going to claw, he’s going to rebound. He’s going to protect the rim a little. He’s going to always be who he is.
  • Simone Fontecchio feels more comfortable with the Jazz in his second season with the team, even if the minutes haven’t come yet, according to The Deseret News’ Sarah Todd. Fontecchio had been bouncing around international rosters, along with playing for the Italian national team, before joining the Jazz. The fact that Utah had other international players that Fontecchio could relate to was huge for his acclimation. “He has an ability to really stay ready,” coach Will Hardy said. “Whether he plays a ton of minutes or whether he plays zero. Obviously his threat of shooting is is great for us. But I’m more excited about all the the other things that he does — crashing the glass, changing things on the floor, he is a great cutter, and he really has a toughness about him that I think our team needs.
  • Jazz center Walker Kessler is out for around two weeks with a UCL injury that usually requires Tommy John surgery. UCL injuries in basketball are a bit rare, but it’s a positive sign Kessler was diagnosed with a sprain and not a tear, according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden. Walden broke down the injury with a doctor, concluding that ligament isn’t used often in basketball, and the injury shouldn’t be worrisome.
  • The Nuggets selected Ismael Kamagate with the 46th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft. He’s currently playing his first EuroLeague season with Milan and got to play with the Nuggets in Summer League this past season, averaging 6.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks across four starts. Though he admitted to that playing in the NBA is his dream, he’s willing to be patient. “We just have to not rush the process, because that’s how to can lose yourself. Take your time, do what you can do. In the team, everybody can do everything. You have to master what you do better, and that’s what I learned this summer,” Kamagate said.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Camara, Kessler, Chet

The Grade 3 ankle strain Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. incurred heading into the 2023/24 season remains an issue. Ported admits that his ankle is still less than 100% healed, estimating its recovery level at 75%, tweets Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. The 6’10” vet notes that he is dogged by soreness following games, but adds that it continues to improve.

Porter has remained productive regardless of his ankle’s health, averaging 15.0 PPG on .460/.380/.857 shooting. He’s also contributing 7.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 BPG and 0.6 SPG.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers rookie power forward Toumani Camara is emerging as a rotation staple at this early point of the season. Camara even started in the second half of Portland’s Friday win ahead of Matisse Thybulle, Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report tweets.
  • Following a 115-113 loss to the Magic Thursday, second-year Jazz center Walker Kessler addressed his disappointing start to the season, Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. His numbers are down across the board from an All-Rookie 2022/23 campaign, and he’s struggling to control the ball as well as he did last year. “Yeah, you know, I think I gotta get back to just having fun,” Kessler said in addressing how he hopes to bounce back. “Because at the end of the day, it is a game. I’ve got to have fun competing and playing with my teammates and enjoy that, because that’s when I have my most productive games — when I’m trying to win and trying to have fun.”
  • Warriors star forward Draymond Green was impressed by rookie Thunder center Chet Holmgren during Golden State’s 141-139 last-second win over Oklahoma City, writes Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Chet’s a problem,” Green said. “He can play. He can dribble the ball, he can shoot the ball, has great length, is a great shot blocker. He’s only going to get better. For a young guy like that to have the feel that he has, you don’t see many mistakes out of him. And I thought that was big.” Through six games, the seven-footer is averaging 17.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.3 BPG and 1.0 SPG.

Trail Blazers Notes: Henderson, Ayton, Camara, Simons

The Trail Blazers have put together a support staff designed to help Scoot Henderson get the most out of his unique talents, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape.

Head coach Chauncey Billups was an NBA point guard for 17 seasons and succeeded at the highest level, earning five All-Star appearances and being named NBA Finals MVP in 2004. His coaching staff includes Scott Brooks, who played point guard for 10 years and helped to develop Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, and Pooh Jeter, Henderson’s former G League Ignite teammate. Portland also traded for Malcolm Brogdon, who quickly became a mentor to the 19-year-old rookie.

“Support is everything, especially from the coaching staff,” Henderson said. “That is huge, knowing they have your back. Everyone in the Portland organization, the coaching staff, everybody behind the scenes, they are pitching a lot into the players. The doctors and medical staff are pitching in a certain way you may not think they would. But I’m watching, observing. … I’m going to take the pressure all on me. But knowing that I have the confidence from the coaching staff, I’m going to respect them a lot more.”

Spears notes that Billups can empathize with Henderson because that level of support wasn’t in place for him when he entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in 1997. He was traded midway through his first season and was on his fifth team by the time he developed into a star in Detroit.

“One of the main things I told (Henderson) was, ‘I’m going to be for you what I needed at this age,’” Billups said. “I needed somebody that knew what I should be doing. I needed somebody that could help me learn the game. I didn’t have that. Somebody that was going to be patient with me, knowing that there’s going to be some nasty, ugly games. Someone that was going to be patient, that understood it. I didn’t have that.”

There’s more from Portland:

  • Deandre Ayton is hoping for a larger role in the offense after being acquired from Phoenix, and Billups seems willing to grant him the opportunity, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I’m going to give him the responsibility to do more,” Billups said, “but it’s all going to be based on his commitment level and what he wants to do.”
  • Toumani Camara, who was also part of the Suns trade, has been among the surprises of camp, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). The rookie power forward, who got a chance to start Monday, is averaging 6.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in four preseason games. “He’s been such a pleasant surprise for all of us,” Billups said. “He’s just my type of guy, man. He just competes on every play, he’s tough, he’s aggressive. … He has confidence out there. I just love everything about Toumani, man.”
  • Anfernee Simons told Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report that his goals for this season include making the All-Star team and getting rid of his “bad defender” label (Twitter link).

Blazers Notes: Team Leader, Ayton, Thybulle, Sharpe, Brogdon

With their long-time leader now in Milwaukee, the Trail Blazers need someone to step up and fill that role, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Last week’s trade of Damian Lillard left Portland not only without its top scorer and No. 1 option in crunch time, but also someone who can take control of the locker room.

Point guard Scoot Henderson seems like the best candidate to eventually accept that responsibility, but he’s only 19 and still has a lot to learn about life in the NBA. Quick notes that Anfernee Simons has been on the roster longer than anyone, but he doesn’t have an outspoken personality. The same is true of Jerami Grant, who’s the team’s second-oldest player at 29 and its top returning scorer.

General manager Joe Cronin and coach Chauncey Billups see the lack of a defined leader as a positive situation because it can encourage competition throughout the roster.

“It’s ‘Come and get it,’” Cronin said. “We have many guys who are very capable or talented enough to be The Man. It’s who is going to emerge from that? Who is going to emerge not just in play, but in leadership?”

There’s more from Portland:

  • Deandre Ayton will likely see more scoring opportunities than he did with the Suns, but he won’t be the focus of the Blazers’ offense, Quick adds. Ayton was often frustrated over not getting the ball enough with his former team. “We are not bringing Deandre here for him to be (Joel) Embiid, where we throw him the ball 30 times a game and say ‘All right, go be the MVP,’” Billups said. “Like, that’s not going to be his role. However, he will probably have a more expanded role than he had in Phoenix. But again, we have a lot of young guys who are figuring out … these things take time.”
  • Matisse Thybulle and Shaedon Sharpe are battling to be the starting small forward and Thybulle appears to have the early advantage, tweets Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Billups said Grant will start at power forward, while Robert Williams will back up both Ayton and Grant. Simons will start at either point guard or shooting guard, and everything else will be decided during training camp and the preseason. Henderson and Sharpe are both expected to play extensively whether they start or not.
  • There has been speculation that the Blazers will try to trade Malcolm Brogdon after acquiring him from the Celtics on Sunday, but the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is preparing to stay in Portland, tweets Casey Holdahl. “They want me here, I want to be here,” Brogdon said. “There’s a lot of misleading information out there about they need to trade me or I want to go. … I’m embracing being here.”
  • Toumani Camara, who was acquired from Phoenix in the Lillard deal, has been an early standout at camp, according to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link).

Bucks Acquire Damian Lillard In Three-Team Trade

9:37pm: The trade is now official, the Bucks announced in a press release.

Damian Lillard is an elite player in our league and someone we’ve long been fans of,” said general manager Jon Horst. “These opportunities are rare and hard to measure and execute. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity for our community and team, and beyond excited to welcome Damian and his family to the Milwaukee Bucks. His character, competitiveness, talent and experience complement our group and gives us the best chance to win at the very highest level as we create new memories together.”

These are the hardest, most human moments of this business. Jrue was unmatched in his commitment to the Bucks and the Greater Milwaukee community,” Horst said of Holiday. “He’s truly a champion on and off the court, and we are all thankful for what he and his family have given to our team and city. He and his wife Lauren were steadfast in their efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people. Their leadership and dedication to the community has left an indelible mark and inspired the Bucks organization for years to come.”

1:22pm: The Bucks have reached an agreement to trade for star Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in a blockbuster three-team deal that also includes the Suns, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links).

According to Wojnarowski, Portland will acquire guard Jrue Holiday and an unprotected 2029 first-round pick from the Bucks, along with the right to swap first-round picks with Milwaukee in 2028 and 2030. The Blazers will also get center Deandre Ayton and rookie forward Toumani Camara from the Suns in the deal.

In exchange for Ayton and Camara, Phoenix will receive center Jusuf Nurkic, forward Nassir Little, and guard Keon Johnson from Portland, as well as wing Grayson Allen from Milwaukee, per Woj.

The massive deal is the culmination of a saga that lasted nearly three months after Lillard requested a trade out of Portland in early July. The seven-time All-Star had spent his entire 11-year NBA career with the Trail Blazers but felt that the team was no longer moving toward championship contention following consecutive lottery seasons and sought a change of scenery.

Miami was Lillard’s landing spot of choice, but reports throughout the process indicated that there was little communication between the Heat and Trail Blazers. In recent days, with the Blazers believed to be working to make a deal before the start of training camp, other Eastern Conference suitors like the Raptors and Bucks were increasingly connected to the 33-year-old.

Milwaukee ultimately emerged as the surprise winner of the Lillard sweepstakes, beating a handful of conference rivals to the punch and strengthening a core that also includes two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and standout starters Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, both of whom signed new free agent contracts with the club this offseason.

While there have been questions about whether Lillard would be happy to report to any team besides the Heat, both he and Antetokounmpo have expressed a desire to play with one another in the past, as Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and Alex Kennedy of point out (all Twitter links). And the Bucks should put Lillard in a better position to win a championship than he ever had with the Blazers.

Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo may not be any more inclined to sign a long-term extension with the Bucks following the acquisition of Lillard than he was earlier in the offseason, given that he would benefit financially from waiting another year. However, in dealing for another star like Lillard, the Bucks’ front office proved it heard Giannis’ call for the organization to be as committed to contending for titles as he is.

The Blazers, who patiently scoured the market for most of the offseason in the wake of Lillard’s trade request, will come away from the deal with a pair of intriguing new players in Ayton and Holiday, though the big man is more likely to remain in Portland than the veteran guard.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Blazers – who are focused on developing a young backcourt that features Shaedon Sharpe, Anfernee Simons, and this year’s No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson – remain engaged in trade talks involving Holiday and could flip him to a contender for additional assets.

Holiday, who can become a free agent next summer if he turns down his 2024/25 player option, recently spoke about his desire to sign a contract extension with the Bucks, but now appears destined for a new long-term NBA home. Holiday will become extension-eligible in February, though as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), he won’t be able to sign a contract that exceeds the extend-and-trade limits (two new years, 5% raises) until six months after being dealt.

On the other hand, it sounds like Ayton will be a keeper for the Blazers, who have had interest in the former No. 1 overall pick in the past and were linked to him again within the last week. The 25-year-old had an up-and-down five-year stint in Phoenix that included some tension with former Suns coach Monty Williams, but he has averaged a double-double for five straight seasons, including 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game across 67 contests last season.

As for the Suns, they recognized that a player such as Ayton, who liked to have the ball in his hands, might not be an ideal fit alongside their new big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, and turned the young center and his $32.5MM cap hit into a series of role players on smaller contracts, including another big man in Nurkic.

Acquiring Nurkic, Little, Allen, and Johnson will make the Suns deeper and will give them more flexibility in future trades, given that their nearly all of their non-stars had been on minimum-salary contracts. However, the move creates a bit of a roster crunch in Phoenix. The club will now have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, plus Jordan Goodwin and Ish Wainright on partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed deals. At least two of those 17 players will have to be traded or cut before the regular season tips off.

While the Suns will increase their roster count as a result of this trade, the Bucks and Trail Blazers are both sending out more players than they’re taking back. That’s especially notable for Milwaukee, which had been carrying 15 players on guaranteed salaries prior to agreeing to acquire Lillard. The Bucks now project to have an open spot on their 15-man regular season roster, which could be used to add a backup point guard.

From a cap perspective, the Bucks will take on the biggest long-term deal in the three-team trade — Lillard is under contract for four more seasons and will earn a projected $216MM during that time, while Holiday ($36.86MM) and Allen ($8.93MM) could both reach free agency next summer.

The Blazers will owe Ayton approximately $102MM over the next three years before he becomes eligible for free agency. Camara is under contract for four years, but it’s a minimum-salary deal and only the first season is guaranteed.

The Suns will take on Nurkic’s three-year contract worth $54.38MM and Little’s four-year contract worth $28MM in addition to Allen’s expiring deal. Johnson is owed a guaranteed $2.81MM salary in 2023/24 and has a $4.47MM team option that the Suns must pick up or decline by October 31, if he’s still on the roster at that point.

Fischer’s Latest: Payne, Bucks, Allen, Suns, Ayton

Trading Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen in the Damian Lillard blockbuster created a roster opening for the Bucks, who still need a backup point guard. Free agent Cameron Payne is worth keeping an eye on for that spot, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

As Fischer writes, the Bucks considered several trade packages last season that would have sent Allen to the Suns when they were pursuing Jae Crowder. Milwaukee eventually landed Crowder at the February deadline without involving Allen, but he’ll end up in Phoenix as part of this deal, which shows the club’s interest in the sharpshooting guard was indeed legitimate.

The Suns added two extra players in the three-team deal, sending Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara to Portland and receiving Allen, Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson. They now have 17 players on standard contracts, with Johnson ($2.8MM guaranteed) and Ish Wainright ($1.9MM non-guaranteed) the top early candidates to be waived ahead of the 2023/24 season, sources tell Fischer.

Jordan Goodwin‘s deal for ’23/24 is only partially guaranteed, but Fischer hears Phoenix decided to move Camara instead because Goodwin is friends with Bradley Beal and is the only point guard on the roster.

As for Ayton, Suns players and front office members alike were “eager for a change of direction,” according to Fischer, which is why the club decided to trade the former No. 1 overall pick. For his part, Ayton is glad to have a “fresh start” in Portland, sources tell Fischer.