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Report: Trail Blazers out on Deandre Ayton trade, focused on OG Anunoby

As the NBA approaches the offseason, Kurt Helin and Corey Robinson unpack which big moves the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz may make before the 2023 season.

It never appeared to be a seamless fit. The Portland Trail Blazers are trying to rebuild a contender on the fly around Damian Lillard, and they reportedly had interest in Suns big man Deandre Ayton, who likely will leave Phoenix this offseason on a sign-and-trade. With Lillard as one focal point, is a max-contract center who is solid but not elite as rim protector a great fit?

Apparently the Trail Blazers don’t think so, reports Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Portland does not appear to be a legitimate landing spot for restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, sources said. The Trail Blazers are expected to retain starting center Jusuf Nurkic, and they are prioritizing Toronto Raptors swingman OG Anunoby in any return for the No. 7 pick in next week’s draft, sources said. But there has been increasing talk about Portland potentially targeting the seventh selection to Oklahoma City for No. 12 and a package that could include Lu Dort.

The Trail Blazers have Lillard and are expected to pay up and re-sign Anfernee Simons. It’s a lot of moving pieces to pull together, but if they add the length, versatility, and defense of Dort and Anunoby to the mix, with Nurkic at center, and that’s an interesting starting five for coach Chauncey Billups. It fits the modern NBA style of team building with multiple shot creators and plenty of switchability on defense. It’s not a contender in the West, but a playoff team? Sure.

Fischer adds Atlanta, Detroit and Toronto are the most likely landing spots for Ayton — three teams looking for a more traditional center.

Portland and Phoenix are two of the more interesting teams to keep an eye on heading into the draft and offseason. The Suns are contenders who are about to lose a former No. 1 pick at center in Ayton, how do they replace his production and keep the team in contention while building for the future around Devin Booker? And the Trail Blazers are trying to thread the needle on rebuilding around Lillard, who will be 32 when next season tips off.