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NBA Rumors: Deandre Ayton 'Strongly Considered' by Blazers amid Lillard Trade Buzz

Julia Stumbaugh

A potential trade for Damian Lillard could send Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton to the Portland Blazers, Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer reported Friday.

The Blazers have "strongly considered" acquiring Ayton as part of a multi-team deal that would send center Jusuf Nurkić to Phoenix, per Fischer.

"The Blazers have registered interest in Ayton in the past, sources said," Fischer wrote.

Meanwhile, Nurkić would provide "a suitable defensive anchor for new head coach Frank Vogel and a pick-and-roll partner for Phoenix's array of perimeter playmakers who is not expecting the volume of touches Ayton is believed to desire on offense," per Fischer.

Arizona Sports' John Gambadoro reported the Suns' interest in swapping Ayton for Nurkić Thursday. Gambadoro described the Blazers' desire to acquire Ayton as "contingent on Dame being moved."

"Portland has previously shown no interest in DA but that was with Dame staying," Gambadoro wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "If they do not have Dame on the roster they could very well want a young 25-year-old to build around."

Although the Suns and Ayton have previously shared a tense relationship due to issues ranging from the center's public arguments with former head coach Monty Williams to the Indiana Pacers offer sheet Ayton signed last summer, Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes reported in June that the Suns planned to keep Ayton as part of the team's core alongside Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal.

According to Fischer and Gambadoro, the option of adding Nurkić, a defensively-focused center who could mesh well with Vogel's goal of building a defensive scheme he calls "the best in the league," has been enough to make the Suns consider the trade after all.

Gambadoro said he expects the Lillard deal to take place "very very soon," a timeline that has been echoed in multiple reports warning of imminent action. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst both said this week that the Blazers are interested in completing a trade before training camp, which begins October 2.

Wojnarowski indicated the Miami Heat have not yet been involved in these talks, although Lillard's agent said this summer his client would only play for the Heat. It is still possible the Suns could help the Blazers work out a trade that finally sends Lillard to Florida.

   

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