The Phoenix Suns have responded to the Indiana Pacers’ four-year, $ 133 million offer sheet to center Deandre Ayton.
Earlier Thursday, Indiana’s offer sheet to Ayton became the largest in NBA history, and put pressure on Phoenix to make a decision on Ayton’s future, as they had 48 hours to either match the offer sheet or let Ayton walk for nothing.
It did not take Phoenix long to make the decision to keep its 23-year-old center.
The Suns have also been listed among the favorites to land Kevin Durant in a blockbuster trade, and if the Suns front office failed to match Ayton’s money, he would not have been eligible for a potential sign-and-trade.
Now, Ayton gets the big dividends he’s long clamored for. Unwavering in his belief that he deserved max money, Ayton began lobbying for a long-term extension from the Suns’ brass prior to the 2021-22 season, and was even seen at a one-on-one meeting with team owner Robert Sarver to discuss a deal.
But those conversations netted null results, and Ayton played well the remainder of the regular season, despite the looming uncertainties of his future with Phoenix.
In 58 games, the 23-year-old averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 0.7. blocks per game, while shooting a career-best 63.4% from the field. But the postseason brought about an entirely different theme for the 23-year-old Bahamian.
His on-court production remained swell, as he posted 17.9 PPG and 8.9 rebounds on a 64% shooting clip, but his relationships with head coach Monty Williams soured during Phoenix’s blowout Game 7 loss to Dallas during the Western Conference semifinals. Ayton noticeably played just 17 minutes in the affair (13 minutes below his usual output of 30) due to what Williams called “internal” issues.
Williams refused to comment on the altercation following the matchup, and although it was a glaring gash in the team’s armor, it does not mean Ayton’s relationship with the squad was entirely fractured.
Now that the Suns have matched the offer, they will not be able to trade Ayton until Jan. 15, and the move will push the Suns approximately $ 15 million into the luxury tax. Ayton also receives veto power on any trade for the next year.
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