Trail Blazers' Deandre Ayton predicted to be on trade block this offseason

The big man has underwhelmed since arriving as part of the Damian Lillard trade.
Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers
Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

Deandre Ayton was supposed to give the Portland Trail Blazers something they lacked when general manager Joe Cronin acquired him from the Phoenix Suns in the Damian Lillard trade - a modern center. A versatile one who could run the floor in transition, protect the rim, switch on defense and score away from the paint.

Then again, that's what Ayton was supposed to give the Suns when they drafted him with the No. 1 pick in 2018. He didn't live up to the expectations Phoenix had for him, but maybe a change of scenery, a new franchise and a more involved role on a rebuilding team could coax the best out of the 7-footer.

That's not what's happened, and now Cronin may be searching for an answer at the center position for a second consecutive season.

Trail Blazers' Deandre Ayton could be traded this offseason

Certain parts of the Portland fan base are ready to move on from the 25-year-old after less than one season, and Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report agrees. Swartz named Ayton one of seven players who could be next to hit the trade block:

"In a season that should have been built around growth, we've seen regression from Ayton.

His production simply doesn't align with his contract, as only Nikola Jokić, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert are making more per year than Ayton among centers."

Greg Swartz, Bleacher Report

Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups called Ayton a top-five center before the season. He's being paid like one, but he sure isn't producing like one. The former Arizona Wildcats star is averaging a career-low in scoring and hasn't shot this poorly since his second season in the league when he only played 38 games.

That's been an issue too - Ayton has already missed 17 contests with knee soreness and will miss more time after injuring his hand on Feb. 27.

"The Trail Blazers should be getting Robert Williams III back from knee surgery next season, a far better defender than Ayton who only makes about a third of the money ($34 million compared to $12.4 million).

Portland should shop Ayton, clear some future cap space and move forward with Williams as their starting center instead."

Greg Swartz, Bleacher Report

Williams is cheaper, as Swartz points out, and a better defender, but health-wise he's even more unreliable than Ayton and can't be counted on as a starting NBA center. Shopping Ayton is the right call. The question is will anyone be buying?