NBA insider hearing DeAndre Ayton to Nets in exchange for 'package' of players

By , Audacy Sports

Kyrie Irving is back in the fold with the Nets, but it seems they might still be on the hunt for another big name -- and big body -- to add to their lineup.

Audacy basketball insider Quinton Mayo thinks Phoenix Suns big man DeAndre Ayton could land in Brooklyn as part of a blockbuster trade.

Mayo has heard "some things" indicating the Nets could send sharpshooter Joe Harris, big man Nic Claxton, and perhaps second-year scoring guard Cameron Thomas to the Suns in exchange for Ayton, who was the first overall pick in 2018.

Ayton's departure from the Valley of the Sun has long seemed inevitable, with the former Arizona Wildcats standout and the Suns long unable to reach agreement on a contract extension. The Suns recently tendered a one-year qualifying offer to the restricted free agent.

Ayton projects as a nice fit in Brooklyn, with the Nets seemingly searching for a strong interior presence to potentially replace Andre Drummond, who started at center last season following his acquisition as part of the James Harden-Ben Simmons swap.

Still only 23, Ayton has arguably fallen short of the lofty expectations of a No. 1 overall pick. He has yet to be selected to an All-Star team, though he has been a regular starter and a significant contributor to the Suns' playoff runs in each of the past three seasons, including a Finals berth in 2020-21. For his career, the 6-foot-11, 250-pounder is averaging 16 points on 60% shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 1 block per game in 31 minutes.

Meanwhile, arguably the most recognizable name mentioned by Mayo would be Harris. The 3-point specialist's tenure in Brooklyn has spanned six seasons and predated the arrivals of the Kevin Durant, Irving, and Simmons. His emergence has made him something of a fan favorite at Barclays Center, and he has twice led the league in 3-point percentage, though his role seems a bit redundant after the acquisition of fellow sharpshooter Seth Curry in the Harden deal.

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