The Detroit Pistons made waves Wednesday when they dealt forward Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for the 36th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and a first-round selection in 2025.
Now, they’re reportedly “expected to make the pursuit of Phoenix Suns restricted free agent Deandre Ayton their priority,” per NBA insider Marc Stein.
Stein adds that the big man would “embrace” teaming up with guard Cade Cunningham in Detroit as the team’s two-man core.
After Wednesday’s trade, the Pistons are projected to have around $50 million in salary cap to go after Ayton and another top free agent.
Stein pinpointed Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton as two other names ahead of Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Jalen Brunson on the Pistons’ wish list.
The Pistons have been linked to Ayton numerous times this offseason.
Other teams rumored to be looking at the big man include the Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs.
Over 58 games last season, Ayton averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists over 29.5 minutes per outing for Phoenix.
Ayton shot a career-high 63.4% from the field, the fourth-best mark in the NBA behind Charlotte’s Montrezl Harrell (64.5%), Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen (67.7%) and Utah’s Rudy Gobert (71.3%). Of the four, Ayton attempted more field goals (12) and made more shots (7.6) per game.
Since entering the league as the 2018 No. 1 pick, Ayton has averaged a double-double.