Report: Suns not looking to trade Deandre Ayton

Suns center Deandre Ayton
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images
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The Suns didn’t sign Deandre Ayton to a max contract extension.

However, it seems more likely than not a team would offer Ayton a max offer sheet in restricted free agency this summer.

Sean Deveney of Heavy:

That’s been enough to get front-office folks wondering if Ayton would land on the trade market.

“That is definitely not the case yet,” one general manager told Heavy.com.

Caveat: Perhaps, this team’s general manager just doesn’t have assets that interest Phoenix.

But this is a good reminder there’s a massive gulf between “The Suns didn’t think Ayton was worth a max extension” and “The Suns don’t want to keep Ayton.”

Phoenix will still hold matching rights over Ayton next offseason. The team will have another season to evaluate him and can always offer a max contract later.

A max offer sheet would also be worth less (projected $128 million over four years) than a max extension would’ve been (projected $173 million over five years, including $133 million over the first four years).

The Suns’ plan carries risk. Ayton could sign a shorter offer sheet that, even if matched, would allow him to hit unrestricted free agency sooner. He could even sign his $16,422,835 qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

But the possible savings are significant. And Phoenix still has Ayton while pursuing wins this season.

At some point before the trade deadline, the Suns must thoroughly re-evaluate the situation – how much they value Ayton, what offers they expect him to get in free agency, sign-and-trade possibilities. Unless he helps Phoenix win a title before departing, the Suns letting him walk this summer rather than trading him first would be a disaster for the team.

But Phoenix holds enough leverage that a trade isn’t inevitable.