Deandre Ayton era over in Phoenix: Suns trade big to Blazers, Damian Lillard headed to Bucks

The Deandre Ayton era in Phoenix is over.

The Suns have traded Ayton to Portland as part of a three-team deal that sent Blazers' All-Star Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, sources confirmed Wednesday afternoon with The Arizona Republic.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first tweeted the news Wednesday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirmed the trade as well Wednesday. The Suns made an official announcement Wednesday night.

The Suns are getting Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic as part of the trade that includes Nassir Little, Keon Johnson and Grayson Allen going to Phoenix. Little and Johnson are coming from Portland while Allen was with Milwaukee.

Ayton averaged a double-double in each of his five seasons with the Suns, but the top overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Arizona was one of four players with max contracts on the team, along with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

With Ayton gone, Booker is the only player left from the 2020-21 Suns team that reached the finals. The Suns will face the Blazers twice in the preseason Oct. 12 in Portland and Oct. 16 in Phoenix. They play each other for the first time in the regular season Nov. 21 at Footprint Center.

The Blazers are receiving Bucks All-Star guard Jrue Holiday, their 2029 first-round pick and a pick swap along with Ayton and the Suns second-round pick this year, Toumani Camara.

Ayton finished his last season with the Suns injured, as he missed the elimination Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in Phoenix against the eventual NBA champion Nuggets with a rib injury suffered in Game 5 in Denver.

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Ayton has been the subject of trade talks for more than a year. Averaging 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds in his NBA career, Ayton is one of the NBA's most talented young bigs, but has been inconsistent and lacked a consistent motor.

He had friction with former Suns coach Monty Williams going back to Game 7 of the 2022 conference semifinals when the two got into a heated exchange on the bench during an embarrassing loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Footprint Center.

However, new Suns coach Frank Vogel said during his introductory press conference in June he was looking forward to working with Ayton and getting him to an "All-Star level player."

A month later, Ayton said in an interview in his native Bahamas he felt the "whole world hating" him and he looked to change the narrative about himself.

Ayton also made reference to last season's playoffs. He followed that up with leading the Bahamas men's national basketball team to winning an Olympic pre-qualifying tournament in Argentina.

The Bahamas now are a step closer to qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but Ayton took heat on social media for his comments following the pre-qualifying tournament title game win about his Bahamas teammates that made some question his relationship with the Suns.

"The best teammates I've ever been around on and off the court," Ayton said after the game. "Just understanding how it feels to fight for your country and everybody on the same mission. It was a phenomenal feeling."

The Suns appeared ready to go into the season with Ayton, but they've parted ways with him less than a week before the start of training camp Tuesday.

This is the third blockbuster trade the Suns have made under new team owner Mat Ishbia with Durant being first before last season's trade deadline and Beal during this summer's offseason.

Nurkic will fill Phoenix's void at center left with trading Ayton. Nurkic is on the second year of a four-year, $70-million deal and is due $16.8 million this season. Nurkic averaged 13.3 points on 51.9% shooting and 9.1 rebounds last season in 52 games.

Ayton is on the second of a four-year, $133-million deal and is due $32.4 million. Ayton averaged 18 points on 58.9% shooting and 10 rebounds in 67 games last season.

More: Up and down: Here's a look at some of Deandre Ayton's best and worst moments as a Phoenix Sun

Allen is in the final year of a two-year, $18.7-million deal and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2023-24 season. So Allen has an expiring contract, a situation that helps the Suns moving forward financially.

Little is in the first year of his four-year, $28-million extension while Johnson is on a four-year, $12.5-million deal.

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The Blazers exercised their club option with Johnson going into last season. There's a club option for Johnson's final year in 2024-25 as he'll be a restricted free agent.

Nurkic was teammates with Suns big Drew Eubanks, who played for the Blazers last season. The Suns signed Eubanks in the offseason.

The Suns were at 15 standard players and two two-way players before the trade. With two players going to Portland and Phoenix getting four in return in the trade, the Suns currently have 17 players with training camp starting Tuesday.

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NBA teams must have 15 standard players right before the regular season begins. The Suns open the regular season on Oct. 24 at Golden State.

The Suns are still are over the second tax apron of $182.5 million, according to Spotrac, but will have less of a financial load moving forward without Ayton.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix Suns trade Deandre Ayton to Blazers in 3-team deal