NBA Rumors: Deandre Ayton To Hornets, Gordon Hayward To Suns In Suggested Three-Way Deal Involving Spurs

Deandre Ayton finding an open teammate
Wikimedia | TonyTheTiger

JB Baruelo

The Charlotte Hornets are one of the rebuilding teams that are expected to be active on the trade market this summer. The Hornets' young core may have shown an impressive performance last season, but they still obviously need to make major roster improvements to have a realistic chance of fully dominating the Eastern Conference and winning the NBA championship title. As of now, the Hornets are finding a way to address some of the major weaknesses on their team, including the starting center position.

Targeting Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton shooting the ball
Wikimedia | TonyTheTiger

One of the big men that the Hornets could target on the market is Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns. As surprising as it may seem, Ayton and the Suns are currently on the verge of an inevitable divorce. Though he was considered an integral part of their core last season, the Suns are unwilling to give Ayton a max contract in the 2022 NBA free agency. This opens doors for center-needy teams like the Hornets to steal him from the Suns this summer.

Proposed Three-Way Trade To Acquire Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton finding an open teammate
Wikimedia | TonyTheTiger

If the Hornets won't mind giving Ayton a huge payday, they could engage in a sign-and-trade deal to acquire him from the Suns this summer. In a recent article, James Piercey of NBA Analysis Network discussed a hypothetical three-team trade that would send Ayton to Charlotte. In the proposed trade scenario, the Hornets would get Ayton and Landry Shamet, the Suns would receive Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, a 2023 first-round pick, and the rights to swap first-round selections with Charlotte in 2024, while the San Antonio Spurs would obtain Dario Saric and two 2023 second-round picks.

Hornets Finally Acquire A Franchise Center

Deandre Ayton celebrating a buzzer beater
Giphy | NBA

Though it would cost them a young and promising player and future draft assets, the proposed three-team deal would be worth exploring for the Hornets. Aside from addressing their major frontcourt problem, it would also enable them to unload Hayward and the $61.5 million that he's owed over the next two years. The potential arrival of Ayton would boost the Hornets' performance on both ends of the floor, giving them a very reliable scorer under the basket, a monster rebounder, and a quality rim protector.

Trading for Ayton may not make the Hornets an instant title contender, but adding him to the core of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Miles Bridges would undoubtedly strengthen their chances of reaching the playoffs next season.

Why Suns & Spurs Would Make The Trade

Gordon Hayward practicing his shooting before the game
Wikimedia | FMSky

The Suns would definitely be hesitant to take Hayward in return, but absorbing his contract while obtaining a young player and two future draft assets is still better than losing Ayton as a free agent without getting anything in return. If the Suns aren't patient enough to wait for Washington's full development, they could use him and the two future draft assets as trade chips in a separate deal to find a quality replacement for Ayton on the market.

For the Spurs, helping the Suns and the Hornets facilitate the trade should be a no-brainer. By simply taking Saric's expiring contract, the Spurs would be receiving two future second-rounders that they could use to add more talented prospects to their roster.