Suns make qualifying offer to Ayton

DEANDRE Ayton in action.

DEANDRE Ayton in action.

As of Thursday, June 30, 2022


#Tribune Sports Reporter

#The NBA free agency period begins in earnest today (see sidebar) and the contract situation between Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns remains one of the most speculated on the market.

#Earlier this week, the Suns tendered a $16.4 million qualifying offer to Ayton, which will make him a restricted free agent on July 1.

#With the offer, the Suns now have the ability to match any offer sheet Ayton may sign with another franchise.

#Teams may officially begin negotiating with free agents beginning today at 6pm and can begin signing them to contracts as early as July 6.

#Should Ayton accept the qualifying offer, he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

#The fourth-year centre, at the end of his rookie deal, has been linked in several sign and trade scenarios or team’s outright offering the max contract his representation seeks.

#During the NBA Draft Combine in May, Ayton’s agent Bill Duffy discussed his client’s future on SiriusXM’s NBA show.

#“We’re disappointed. We wanted a max contract,” Duffy said. “He went out and was a soldier the whole year, played well, improved his statistics. So, we’re proud of him. A lot of guys handle things differently, but he was very mature about it. Things will work out for Deandre. He’s a valuable player. There’s other teams in the league as well. He’s a restricted free agent, so we’ll see how this process unfolds.”

#Suns general manager James Jones reiterated his organisation’s desire to keep its former no.1 overall pick under contract moving forward.

#“Nothing has changed on our end. We haven’t said anything different. DA remains a huge part of what we do and he’s a free agent. So we’ll talk about free agency when that time comes, but that hasn’t changed,” Jones said following last week’s NBA Draft.

#“I think you hear his teammates. They echo the same sentiment that we have. This team is a really good team and we’re going to keep it together.”

#As a restricted free agent, Ayton is free to sign an offer sheet with another franchise but the Suns would still have the ability to match the deal and retain his rights if they choose to do so.

#In his fourth season, the 23-year-old centre averaged 17.2 points on a career high 63 percent from the field and 10.2 rebounds per game in 58 appearances.

#Contract negotiations between Ayton and the Suns reached an impasse last April after both sides failed to reach an agreement on a rookie contract extension.

#He was eligible for a five-year, $172.5 million extension that could have reached as much as $207 million if he reached benchmarks and incentives.

#Ayton appeared in only 17 minutes of the Suns’ 123-90 elimination loss to the Dallas Mavericks in game seven of the Western Conference semifinals.

#Several players in Ayton’s 2018 NBA draft class have received max contract extensions, including Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jaren Jackson Jr of the Memphis Grizzlies, Kevin Huerter of the Atlanta Hawks and Michael Porter Jr of the Denver Nuggets.

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