The Deandre Ayton saga has been going on for months now. The Phoenix Suns pinned a portion of the blame for their playoff exit on the young star, However, this is not the first part of the story. Ayton believes that he is a max player and the Suns did not believe this to be the case and let him test the waters of restricted free agency. This could have been to save the Suns a heap of long-term money. It may have also been done to continue the Kevin Durant pipedream.
Ayton was the first pick in the 2018 NBA draft and he has seen players like Trae Young, Luka Doncic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander get rookie-max deals but he has missed out. This has to hurt because he is the only player from his draft to have a key role in a team that has made the NBA Finals. We are quick to point out his deficiencies, every young player has them, but why are his good qualities not praised?
How many other players in NBA history have averaged a double-double over their first four seasons. The answer would not be that many. Thanks to knowing his game, Ayton is also able to hit 59.9 percent of his field goals. He is an excellent offensive rebounder and has averaged one blocked shot per game over his career. These are incredible numbers for the third option of a team.
So why did the Phoenix Suns not offer Deandre Ayton a rookie-max extension?
The rumor is that Ayton did not want to sign anything less than a max deal. On the other side of the fence, the Suns did not believe that he was a max player. There are not many places to go when both parties have such variances of worth. This was the exact scenario that just panned out in Atlanta with John Collins.
In that case, there was no second team that wanted to sign Collins for what he thought he was worth. The Pacers basically forced the issue with Ayton such as his level of talent. Thanks to them making all the moves to sign Ayton. They cleared some players off cap space by waiving players. They then offered Ayton the biggest offer sheet in NBA history, which he signed.
It took the Suns three minutes to match the offer. This means that they had every intention of keeping Ayton. However, the machinations of this move are a thing of beauty. Ayton got close to the maximum that he could get. However, the Suns got their man for a year less and without the usual kickers that are associated with a rookie max deal. This could save them close to $80 million over the term of his contract.
What could the drawbacks of the deal be for the Phoenix Suns?
The drawback of the deal is that the Suns cannot trade Ayton until the middle of January. After this time, Ayton has veto power on any trade until the first year of his deal is complete. So apart from the money savings, the Suns now have the ability to trade players and remain over the cap.
DA STAYING IN PHOENIX 🚨
The Suns have matched the Pacers’ 4-year, $133M max offer sheet on Deandre Ayton.
(per @ShamsCharania) pic.twitter.com/sMoSSEwvUK
— Overtime (@overtime) July 15, 2022
This is going to be crucial if they are to trade for a superstar like Durant. The Suns have not given up any of their first-round draft picks in any trades so they could satisfy any trade requirements to land a superstar. If they put any superstar player with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Ayton then this is a superpower team.
However, if this does not happen then the Suns have the flexibility to potentially trade him. There is always a team down the bottom of the pack that is looking for a franchise player. They have made sure that they did not lose their former No. 1 pick for nothing.