Deandre Ayton agrees to max offer sheet with Pacers: Now what?

Deandre Ayton agrees to max offer sheet with Pacers: Now what?


Deandre Ayton agrees to max offer sheet with Pacers: Now what?

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The Indiana Pacers and center Deandre Ayton have agreed on a four-year, $132.9 million maximum offer sheet, according to Adrian Wojanarowski. If there’s a sign-and-trade to be done between the two teams, now is the time… because that possibility for Ayton gets eliminated once he officially signs the offer sheet.

How the Pacers will generate max cap space

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

The Pacers currently have $26.4 million in cap space so they need to make some moves to generate the $30.9 million needed to sign Ayton to a maximum contract. According to Wojnarowski, the Pacers plan on doing that by waiving Duane Washington, who is non-guaranteed, and waiving-and-stretching Nik Stauskas, Juwan Morgan, and Malik Fitts.

Washington’s contract is non-guaranteed, so waiving him opens up $1.6 million. Stauskas, Morgan, and Fitts, all of whom were brought over from Boston in the Malcolm Brogdon trade, had their guarantees increased to all but $86,988 of their full salary amounts. By stretching their cap hits over the next three seasons, the Pacers will have $31.9 million in cap space.

What matching Ayton's offer sheet means for the Suns

According to Wojnarowski, the Suns are expected to match the Pacers’ offer sheet for Ayton. While they may not view Ayton on a maximum contract as favorable, it would be worse to let him walk for nothing. If they match, the Suns will be $16.2 million over the luxury tax for a $32.6 million payment. This would be their first tax payment since 2009-10 and the largest one in franchise history.

As time went by and cap space dwindled, there was skepticism on whether Ayton would get a maximum contract offer and if he may potentially take less or even the qualifying offer. The latter would’ve made him an unrestricted free agent in 2023 but he wouldn’t be trade-eligible until January 15, would have veto rights on a trade, and getting traded would revert his Bird rights to Non-Bird. As Bobby Marks notes, the Suns matching would still make Ayton trade-eligible starting on January 15 and give him veto rights over any trade next season. The Pacers would also not be allowed to acquire Ayton in a trade next season.

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