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Atlanta Hawks strongly linked to Deandre Ayton ahead of NBA free agency

Andrew Buller-Russ

As the NBA schedule advances, fans are speculating about the potential upcoming player movement later this summer. Deandre Ayton is set to enter free agency, where he’s expected to be one of the best players available for teams to sign. Of course, not everyone can afford the former No. 1 overall pick.

Especially if Ayton seeks a max-level contract, which the Suns don’t appear willing to offer.

But that doesn’t mean the Suns couldn’t still add to their roster, using Ayton’s trade value as a bargaining chip in a sign-and-trade. This option would allow teams who don’t currently have the cap space to sign Ayton, to get involved. This would include teams like the Atlanta Hawks, who won’t be able to be big spenders in free agency.

NBA insiders expect a Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade

According to Jake Fischer’s June 11 podcast, one NBA insider firmly believes Ayton is the top target on Atlanta’s offseason wish list. And while they can’t sign him outright, the Hawks do have several trade assets that could intrigue the Suns, such as De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari. Really, anyone not named Trae Young is likely considered expendable this offseason.

Fischer adds that he has yet to speak to anyone who believes the Suns would let Ayton leave in free agency without completing a sign-and-trade that allows them to add talent to their core.

Ayton would give the Hawks a young duo that could grow together in the future. Pairing Young with a capable big like Ayton who can rebound and defend at a high level while still scoring on the low block appears to be a strong fit on paper.

How much the Hawks would have to send the Suns in a potential trade remains to be seen, but if Ayton’s prepared to walk in free agency, Atlanta has to be seen as an intriguing fit.

Related: 3 ideal Deandre Ayton landing spots in NBA free agency