Trade rumor rankings: Deandre Ayton, Jordan Poole and more
After a hiatus of a few months, we’re back with another edition of our Trade Rumors Rankings series in which we rank the five players who have appeared most often on our Trade Rumors page over the previous week.
This summer and the following campaign are expected to be hot and heavy with player movement, as the upcoming free-agent class is very weak, leaving teams with no choice but to hit the trade market if they want to significantly improve their teams.
Below, check out the five players who have appeared most often in NBA trade rumors over the past week.
OG Anunoby (Toronto)
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Trade reports on OG Anunoby’s future with the Toronto Raptors are speculative at this point, with the most recent coming from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, who reported the talented two-way swingman is a potential target of the New York Knicks this summer, including other star targets:
Other big names suggested as potential Knicks targets include Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma (expected to be a free agent this summer) and OG Anunoby. Generally speaking, the Knicks could be a suitor for the next star who demands a trade.
Previously, Heavy reported that one league executive isn’t sure how much value Anunoby or other Raptors stars have on the trade market right now due to their contract situations:
“There will be changes for sure; I have no idea to what extent,” said a league executive. “I don’t think they have that many pieces to trade that are that good, just because (Pascal) Siakam has one year left on a $38 million dollar deal. Same thing with OG (Anunoby), one year left ($18.6 million) and a player option. I just don’t know if they’re going to get much in return for those guys. I don’t know if the value is there. And they didn’t get value for OG this trade deadline either. Masai was holding out for a big package, and there was nothing there that he wanted. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there.”
It’s clear Anunoby is a very promising player thanks to his improved scoring and elite defense, the type of third or fourth option that can help a team win a championship, but the fact he’s essentially heading into a contract year could make it tricky for Toronto to move him, considering other teams won’t want to shell out as many premium assets on a player who could be a one-year rental.
For all of the latest OG Anunoby trade rumors, click here.
Evan Fournier (New York)
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
It’s refreshing when a player is so realistic and self-aware that they know what their future probably holds, as is the case with Knicks guard Evan Fournier, who saw his playing time in non-garbage minutes reduced to nearly zero from early January through New York’s playoff elimination at the hands of the Miami Heat.
Fournier, to his credit, realizes his future in the NBA won’t be with the Knicks, as he recently told collected media:
Evan Fournier would be shocked if he’s a Knick next season and sounds eager for a change after getting buried on Tom Thibodeau’s bench. “You know I’m not gonna be back,” Fournier said. “There’s no way they’re gonna keep me. I would be very surprised if they do. So, we’ll see. It’s obviously not in my hands though.” “I mean, wouldn’t you guys be surprised [if i came back?],” Fournier added. “Eleven years in, big contract, they’re obviously trying to develop the young guys. I didn’t play this year, so why would you bring me back?
Fournier is under contract for two more seasons. He’s owed $18.9 million for next year and $19.0 million for the season after, but the final year of his deal has a team option on it, and despite his lack of playing time this season, he’s still just 30 years old, so he probably won’t be impossible to move if the Knicks decide to go down that route.
For all of the latest Evan Fournier trade rumors, click here.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Not all players possess Fournier’s self-awareness, though.
Just take Jordan Poole as an example, who, after a putrid playoff run that saw him average 10.3 points on 34.1 percent shooting (25.4 percent from three), told The Ringer that it wasn’t a bad year for him because he averaged career-highs in two categories:
“I don’t know why I wouldn’t be [back],” Jordan Poole told me a day after the Warriors’ season ended. “It wasn’t a bad year. I mean, career highs in two categories. I was able to make history with Klay and Steph. My first game-winner. It was a lot of good things that happened this season. It wasn’t a bad season. Yes, I’m in the fabric. Yes, I belong here in this organization, bridging the gap. And I’m a young guy who was drafted here. We won a championship last year, and we have another chance to do it again. And I don’t know why anybody else would feel otherwise. I don’t think anybody is thinking like that.”
Granted, Poole is right: Overall, the campaign as a whole was a successful one for him individually, as his numbers for the regular season (20.4 points and 4.5 assists on 43.0 percent shooting) were strong and showed progress, but his poor run of form in the playoffs was so bad that it has to give the Warriors some concern about the future.
He’s also right that there’s little reason to think he won’t be back next season. After all, Poole has four seasons left on his deal after this one, peaking in 2026-27 at $35.3 million; it would be asinine for the Warriors to move him now when his value is so low.
Regardless, one reporter for The Athletic believes Golden State will look into what Poole’s market might be this summer:
If Draymond signs for anything near $30 million, some money will have to be subtracted. And Poole will have some value around the league. Maybe not as much as he had when he signed the deal, but part of the reason the Warriors paid that price was that they knew Poole would have trade value. I think the Warriors will see what the market is for Poole. They could use a tougher backup guard. They could use somebody who can score tough points. They were missing a “change-up,” as Curry described it, against the Lakers’ two-layer defense, guarding the perimeter and then having Davis sitting in the lane.
Considering Poole and Thompson are owed a combined $71 million next year, maybe the asinine move would be for the Warriors not to try to move the young Golden State 2-guard.
Either way, it’s starting to become clearer why reports state Warriors general manager Bob Myers might not be back next season. Whoever does have to make the aforementioned types of decisions in the future is not in an enviable position.
For all of the latest Jordan Poole trade rumors, click here.
Chris Paul (Phoenix)
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul likewise faces a muddy future with his current team, as his play finally did start to show signs of decline in 2022-23 before injury cut his playoff run short, in part causing the Phoenix Suns’ postseason to end in the Western Conference semifinals.
Two reports came out this week stating that the Suns were looking into trading Paul at the trade deadline before the Kevin Durant deal came together, one from Bleacher Report and one from Yahoo! Sports.
Furthermore, Marc Stein reported that Paul’s future in Phoenix is in serious doubt:
Chris Paul’s Phoenix future is also in serious doubt after he was foiled for the 18th successive season in his quest for a championship ring. The 38-year-old was forced to miss the last four games of the Suns’ six-game exit to Denver in Round 2 because of a groin strain and holds a trade-friendly contract for next season in which only $15.8 million of the $30.8 million he is owed is guaranteed if the team option to escape the deal is exercised by June 28.
As far as Paul himself, the legendary floor general had a wait-and-see approach when asked about what his future with the Suns might hold:
Chris Paul on whether he sees himself being back with the Suns next season: “My contract not up, but unfortunately I’m not the GM or anything like that. So we’ll see.” pic.twitter.com/iH7YV7IsR3
— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) May 12, 2023
The Suns have a very interesting summer ahead, already having fired former Coach of the Year Monty Williams and with new owner Mat Ishbia aggressively calling the shots, so we’ll see what the next few months look like for Phoenix.
For all of the latest Chris Paul trade rumors, click here.
Deandre Ayton (Phoenix)
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
One of the biggest names on the trade market this summer and perhaps the likeliest player to get traded, Suns big man Deandre Ayton nearly left the team last summer in free agency before Phoenix matched the Indiana Pacers’ huge offer sheet for the former No. 1 pick.
Now, it looks as though Ayton may have played his final minute for Phoenix, as Stein recently reported:
A leaguewide consensus is quickly forming that Deandre Ayton, drafted No. 1 overall for the Suns just five years ago in 2018, has likely played his last game for the franchise. Frustrations on both sides have reached the point that the Suns are widely expected to explore their trade options with Ayton. The center has three seasons left on the four-year, $133 million contract he signed last summer with Indiana as a restricted free agent and which Phoenix matched, but a trade market is bound to emerge despite the persistent questions about Ayton’s ability to sustain focus and aggressiveness as well as general skepticism about the appetite for pricy big men leaguewide. Ayton, for all the criticism he generates, is too young and too skilled not to attract suitors.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe similarly stated that the Suns have grown tired of Ayton’s up-and-down effort levels, which became glaringly obvious in Phoenix’s second-round defeat to the Nuggets:
“There’s a lot of people in that organization that are tired of DeAndre. You can see it in the game, you don’t even have to be at the game to see the body language, the eye rolling, the ‘what the what is this guy doing?’ I do think there’s going to be a tendency to pile on Ayton and say that’s his fault, he’s immature, he wants to be a certain type of play.”
Ayton himself stated that he loves Phoenix and wants to continue playing hard for the Suns…
“I love Phoenix, man. Honestly, I’m gonna continue to play hard for Phoenix.”
Deandre Ayton on today’s latest trade rumors, playing for his teammates and not listening to the outside noise: pic.twitter.com/eiRcVgq4nY
— PHNX Suns (@PHNX_Suns) May 12, 2023
…but that decision might not be up to him.
The big man has another three years left on his deal with no options on it, peaking in 2026-27 at $35.6 million, a huge investment for a player who hasn’t shown he is as consistently impactful as he should be, despite his immense talent level.
Ayton’s deal isn’t quite an albatross and he can still become a 20-10 performer on the right team (he’s already averaged 18 and 10 multiple times in his career), so if the Suns do choose to move him this summer, he’ll likely have a host of interested suitors.
For all of the latest Deandre Ayton trade rumors, click here.