But Phoenix apparently has a different plan.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
So far, Suns haven't shown an interest in negotiating a sign-and-trade on Ayton with the Pacers, but the expectation remains that Phoenix will match the record-$133M offer sheet once it's signed, sources tell ESPN. Suns could trade Ayton as soon as Jan. 15 once sheet is matched.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 14, 2022
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 Devin Booker and Chris Paul, Phoenix shouldn’t take a step back now.
However, the Suns have indicated they don’t value Ayton at this amount. So, barring an unexpected development, what comes after Phoenix matches? Obviously, there will be attempts to get Ayton to mature. Trade watch would also commence.
If everyone is absolutely convinced the Suns will match, he might ultimately just sign directly with them. That’d allow him and Phoenix to structure his contract as they wish and avoid trade restrictions that come with a matched offer sheet. Indiana would avoid whatever moves are necessary to max clear cap space and having its cap space tied up for the 48-hour matching period.
But this report probably isn’t enough to convince everyone the Suns aren’t bluffing or won’t change their mind. This saga is still unfolding.