Ayton contract offers reportedly hung up by Durant trade negotiations

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Negotiations to grant his wishes and trade Kevin Durant out of Brooklyn are slowly dragging along. In the wake of the overpay the Timberwolves made for Rudy Gobert, the price for Durant is sky high — an All-Star caliber player plus a mountain of picks and other players — and not many teams have those assets or are willing to give them up. Even for an MVP-level Durant.

Caught up in the wash of all that is Deandre Ayton.

The frontrunner to land Durant remains the Phoenix Suns — one of the two teams on KD’s list — but any trade for Durant involves a sign-and-trade that sends Ayton to Brooklyn or a third team as part of a larger deal. While the Nets are rightfully patient, it leaves Ayton hanging, something Jake Fischer talks about at Bleacher Report.

Ayton’s restricted free agency appears to be the offseason domino Durant’s trade limbo has most directly stalled. Toronto and Indiana have repeatedly been mentioned as looming landing spots for the talented young center, but Utah has been described to B/R as an unlikely destination for Ayton, despite the Jazz moving off Gobert…

Only Indiana and San Antonio currently hold the cap space to give Ayton the payday he wants. But even if an offer from the Pacers or Spurs emerges, it’s possible Ayton would prefer sign-and-trade outcomes to a playoff unit over two different rebuilding situations.

Ayton and his team may need patience, waiting for the market to shake out. The Spurs are not going to come in with an offer, they have Jakob Poeltl at center on the roster already, and they are more likely to trade Poeltl as they focus on tanking for Victor Wembanyama developing their young players. Ayton on a max is not on the Spurs timeline.

It might be on the Pacers timeline, with Tyrese Haliburton, Chris Duarte, Bennedict Mathurin and their other young players. However, the Pacers are in no rush either.

The pace of transactions may pick up later this weekend and next week as all the NBA decision makers descend on Las Vegas for Summer League. Maybe that means some movement for Ayton. But for now the Nets are playing it slow and Ayton has no choice but to play along.