Deandre Ayton is going to be a restricted free agent next summer.
Talks have ended between the Phoenix Suns and Ayton on an extension because the Suns never put a max four-year, $173 million extension on the table, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
ESPN Sources: Suns talks with Deandre Ayton on rookie extension have ended — without a deal. Ayton expected max contract and owner Robert Sarver hasn’t offered it. More coming on consequences for failing to reach deal with 2018 No. 1 overall pick. NBA Today debut, ESPN2. Now.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2021
The No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton wanted the max that Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from his draft class got. The Suns and owner Robert Sarver never put that offer on the table, which led Ayton to say he was “disappointed.”
Two big questions come out of this. First, does this impact Ayton on the court this season? He could come out looking to show everyone — including Sarver — he is worth the max, carrying over the leap he made in the playoffs to this season. Or, it could get in his head in a negative way (although this is less likely with Chris Paul pushing and guiding him).
Second, what happens with Ayton next summer as a restricted free agent? The Suns still will have control and can still make a five-year max offer if they wish, or match any other team’s offer, which likely will be a four year, $128 million max (that’s the most any other team can offer unless Ayton makes an All-NBA team, then that number goes up for everyone). However, those other teams may choose to give Ayton options on the back end of that contract — maybe a four-year deal that is a 3+1 with the player option, or even a 2+1, both of which allow Ayton to return to free agency earlier. Considering the salary cap expected to jump again in a few years with the new broadcast deal, Ayton may want a shorter contract that puts him back in the market when more money starts to flow into the system.
The Suns are taking a risk rather than having Ayton locked up for five years after this one. And players and agents tend not to forget when they feel disrespected.
Ayton averaged 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds a game last season, shooting 62.6% from the floor, then made a leap in the playoffs that helped propel the Suns to the Finals. If the Suns are not sold Ayton’s leap is real, this is a prudent financial move. However, if it is and Ayton is about to be a top-three center in the NBA, they may come to regret that decision.