“Super glad to be here”: Deandre Ayton elated to join Blazers following turbulent end to Suns’ tenure


Deandre Ayton appears to be in great spirits following his move from the Phoenix Suns to the Portland Trailblazers. A video shared on the Blazers’ social media channels showed Ayton’s happiness as he visited the team’s facilities after his trade.

Ayton was traded to the Blazers as part of the Damian Lillard trade. The full trade involves the Milwaukee Bucks acquiring Lillard, the Portland Trailblazers receiving Ayton, Jrue Holiday, Toumani Camara, the Bucks’ 2029 first-round pick and Bucks draft swaps in 2028 and 2030, and the Phoenix Suns getting Jusuf Nurkic, Nassar Little, Keon Johnson and Grayson Allen.

As he entered the Blazers’ facility, Ayton was nothing but excited.

“I’m so glad to be here,” he said.

While touring the locker room and being introduced to his designated space, Ayton enthusiastically remarked that it felt like he was experiencing the excitement of being drafted all over again.

“This is so wonderful,” he said. “I feel like I just got drafted.”

The upcoming season for the #1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft is likely to be one with lower expectations, as the Blazers are anticipated to prioritize the development of their young talents, including Ayton, Scoot Henderson, and Shaedon Sharpe.

When Ayton was a restricted free agent last offseason, the Indiana Pacers signed him to a lucrative $133 million offer sheet, which the Suns ultimately matched. However, despite the Suns’ substantial investment in him, he found himself in a role-player position with high expectations placed upon him.

Ayton averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and nearly a block per game last season.

DeAndre Ayton to anchor defense of young Portland team

Last season’s Suns, which featured Ayton’s presence in the paint, were 9th in defensive rating. The Blazers were 26th.

An essential aspect of teams’ rebuilding process is establishing a strong defense, and Ayton, a significant paint presence, plays a crucial role in filling that gap.

This becomes even more critical considering the Blazers are expected to part ways with Holiday, who is arguably the best two-way player in the NBA.

The Blazers have other interesting defenders on their team, including Jerami Grant and Matisse Thybulle. While Ayton is not a prolific shot blocker, one of his notable defensive strengths compared to many other NBA bigs is his mobility, enabling him to effectively defend players on the perimeter.

Ayton’s playoff experience could also serve as a valuable asset to the team, especially as a leader among the younger players on the roster.

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Edited by Tejas Rathi
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