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Can the Hornets make a trade for Deandre Ayton?

Charlotte would have to give up a lot to land Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton, but Locked On Hornets host Walker Mehl says it would be worth paying a hefty price.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The NBA Playoffs are still underway but one of the hottest topics across the league is the future of Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, and whether the team will attempt to trade him during the offseason. 

Ayton enters this summer a restricted free agent and his future with the Suns is unclear, especially after his questionable exit from the team's final game against Dallas. Ayton only played 17 minutes in a game seven loss, with head coach Monty Williams saying the decision to limit his game time was "internal." 

Ayton's agent, Bill Duffy, told SiriusXM NBA Radio that the 23-year-old wants a max contract. During the interview, Duffy said "there's other teams in the league" when asked about Ayton's future. With Ayton being a restricted free agent, getting out of Phoenix could be difficult, as the Suns will have the right to match any offer another team makes. Ayton finished last season averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. 

That's where the Hornets could enter the picture. On a recent episode of Locked On Hornets, hosts Walker Mehl and Doug Branson discussed the chances of Charlotte putting together a trade package to acquire Ayton. 

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Charlotte currently has the No. 13 and No. 15 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, and some young players that could make a deal intriguing, such as Miles Bridges and PJ Washington. And while those picks are in the first round, they aren't near the top of the draft, which is what it will probably take to get a player of Ayton's caliber. 

"You start with the two first-round picks, then you include Miles Bridges, maybe PJ Washington in addition and maybe another first-round pick and then you get into some negotiating power," Mehl said. "But they're going to laugh at you if you start negotiating with 13 and 15."

Mehl said he'd be willing to pay a high price for Ayton, who is among the top players in the league at his position. 

"I'd be willing to give up a lot for Ayton," Mehl said. "That's one you go all in. What's not to like about a 23-year-old, crazy skilled big guy? Luka should've been the No. 1 pick in that draft but Ayton is still an awesome player, he's really good and I'd give up a lot to get him."

To hear more about the Hornets' plans for free agency, the 2022 NBA Draft and the search for a new head coach, subscribe to Locked On Hornets. 

Locked On is the leading podcast network for local sports and is owned by WCNC Charlotte's parent company TEGNA.
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