Gustavo Ayon wanted to stay in the NBA, but in the end this is a business and he made the business decision.
Ayon was trying to find his space on the Hawks last season when shoulder surgery shut him down for the year in February. He showed in the FIBA World Cup he was back, leading Mexico to the knockout round then putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds on Team USA’s front line in a losing effort. He looked solid.
But the offers that were coming in to return to the NBA, with the Spurs and others, were for the league minimum.
Which is why he has signed to play for more money from Real Madrid in Spain, something reported by solobasket.com (via Hoopshype).
Ayon played in Spain for years before coming to the NBA.
Ayon is very skilled which helped make up for the fact most NBA centers he went up against were more athletic than him. But he was fairly efficient (although that stepped back last season with the injury) and was a good passer and finisher. His free throw percentage (40 percent last season) was always an issue helping keep his minutes down.
This is a business for players, they have a limited window to earn money as a professional player and while for the All Stars that populate Team USA that means eight figures a year, for a lot of guys its about making as much as they can right now before that well goes dry. Real Madrid is a top European team that pays well, if Ayon will make significantly more there he had to make this move.
We’ll see if down the line an NBA team ponies up more to bring him back to North America.