Ayton signs offer sheet with the Pacers;

 Home|Sports|Ayton signs offer sheet with the Pacers; Suns have two days to matchSports

Suns have two days to match

The Nassau GuardianSend an emailJuly 15, 2022 301 2 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 Phoenix Suns’ center DeAndre Ayton (22) shoots over Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during the second half of Game One in the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs on Monday, in Phoenix, Arizona. AP

Phoenix Suns’ big man DeAndre Ayton could be joining fellow Bahamian Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield in Indiana for the 2022-2023 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, as it was reported by his agents yesterday that he signed a four-year, $133 million maximum contract offer sheet with Indiana Pacers. It would be the first time two Bahamians play on the same team in the NBA.

As for the offer sheet, it is the largest in NBA history to a restricted free agent, surpassing the four-year, $107 million deal signed by Otto Porter Jr. with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. However, according to reports, the Pacers apparently haven’t officially submitted the agreed-upon max offer sheet, which allows the Suns to still sign-and-trade the center to Indiana.

Ayton was looking for a max contract from the Suns, similar to the ones his draft classmates Luka Dončić and Trae Young got with their respective teams in the summer of 2021. Ayton was the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft while Dončić went third to the Dallas Mavericks and Young was taken fifth by the Atlanta Hawks. Dončić and Young might have better numbers individually, and more accolades, in their short time in the league, but neither of them has experienced more team success.

Ayton, 23, helped the Suns reach the NBA Finals in 2021 where they lost four games to two to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, and then helped the Suns clinch the number one overall seed in the Western Conference in 2022. They advanced to the Western Conference semifinals before being knocked out in seven games by the Mavericks.

Adrian Wojnarowski, of ESPN, broke the news of Ayton’s signing yesterday.

 “This is practically what the Suns must do. It’d just be too costly to lose the talented and young Ayton for no return. In the midst of championship contention with Chris Paul and Devin Booker, Phoenix shouldn’t take a step back now,” reported Wojnarowski yesterday.

Both all-star guards Paul and Booker are under contract with the Suns – Paul through 2025 and Booker through 2028, inking a massive four-year $224 million supermax extension in June.

The Suns have two days to match the offer sheet to Ayton, and there are indications that they intend to do so. Otherwise, they would lose the promising young center to the Pacers for nothing in return. Faced with that possibility, the Suns would likely match the offer sheet, or just sign Ayton outright. Thereby, Ayton and the Suns could structure the contract as they wish and avoid trade restrictions that come with a matched offer sheet.

If the Suns match the offer sheet, they can’t trade Ayton anywhere until at least January 15 – and can’t trade him to Indiana for a year.

Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds this past season while shooting 63.4 percent from the field. This is the fourth straight season he averaged a double-double with the Suns and is at 16.3 and 10.5 for his career. Also, he has improved tremendously defensively in his four years in the league, and has developed into a quality starting center.

However, the Suns don’t generate their offense through a post-dominated attack. Instead, the focus is on more guard penetration, pick and pop moves and perimeter play. Therefore, their main assets would be Booker and Paul and complementary wing players.

As mentioned, the Suns have two days to match the offer sheet. They had never made Ayton an offer on a max contract, suggesting that they didn’t value him as a max player. 

It remains to be seen what the guard-friendly Suns will do.


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