Following two successful seasons with the Boston Celtics, Aron Baynes was traded to the Phoenix Suns last summer in exchange for a 2020 protected first-round pick. With the Suns seemingly out of contention, the veteran was immediately linked with another trade, although Deandre Ayton's 25 game suspension saw Baynes promoted to the starting lineup, and the center's stock has continued to grow following a number of impressive performances.
Over 26 appearances this season (20 starts), Baynes has played a career-high 24.1 minutes per game while averaging 12.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Nevertheless, Baynes will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it is possible that the Suns may look to cash in on the Australian following the return of Deandre Ayton.
So, as we creep closer to the NBA trade deadline, here we will look at three teams that should consider making a move for the center.
#3 Dallas Mavericks
Thanks to the form of the outstanding Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks have made a better than expected 22-12 start to the season - and the team is expected to be among the most active teams ahead of the deadline. Nevertheless, the chances of the Mavs landing a third star to play alongside Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis remain slim and the team may be better off by bringing in an established veteran such as Baynes.
Despite starting 28 times at center this season, Dwight Powell has managed just 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest, while the Mavs have been reluctant to use Boban Marjanovic. Meanwhile, Maxi Kleber has been impressive over the past month, although he remains best when operating at power forward. Evidently, this leaves the Mavs short on reliable centers and with the trade assets to complete a move this month, Baynes is a realistic option for the playoff hopefuls.
#2 Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics offloaded Baynes during the 2019 offseason, although the team remains on the search for a center, and the veteran is performing much better than their current big man options of Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis.
The Celtics' quest to sign a reliable center has seen them linked with the likes of Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston's Clint Capela - although Baynes is a much cheaper option that wouldn't require Boston to depart with one of their emerging trio of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart.
Baynes has made enough of an impact with the Suns to warrant a starting spot with the Celtics, and the Australian would need little time to settle following his recent spell with the team. In addition to improving their options at center, Baynes' expiring contract would also allow the team to reevaluate their big man plans during the 2020 offseason.
#1 LA Clippers
Heading into the season, the Los Angeles Clippers were considered as the favorites to advance from the Western Conference, and while Doc Rivers' team has picked up some big wins, they have been largely inconsistent so far. With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers have a superstar pairing, while Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams have also made an impact. Nevertheless, the center position remains a concern and is something that LA is likely to address in the coming weeks.
Ivica Zubac made a promising start following his trade from the Lakers last season, although the Croatian's development has since stalled and there are concerns over his ability to perform in the postseason.
In comparison, Baynes has played 28 times in the playoffs over the past two seasons, and he would provide increased production at both ends of the court. With a path to a trade straightforward, this is a deal that the Clippers should explore as signing Baynes will undoubtedly benefit them in the short-term.