More HoopsHype Rumors
May 16, 2022 | 7:35 am EDT Update
But what happens if Phoenix uses the threat of restricted free agency and a limited market of teams with available cap space as leverage? Would the Suns tell Ayton to go out and get an offer sheet from another team, with the belief it would get matched? ESPN is projecting four teams — the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs — to each have more than $30.5 million in available cap space. A fifth, the Portland Trail Blazers, would need to waive starter Josh Hart to create a max slot. Each of the four teams (and possibly Portland) can offer a four-year, $131.1 million contract.
Storyline: Deandre Ayton Free Agency
Considering Phoenix is now getting a discount of $46 million (but with one less year), the likelihood is that the offer is matched. In total, 17 players have signed an offer sheet, with seven going unmatched. The latest was in 2020 with Bogdan Bogdanovic and the Sacramento Kings. The risk for the Suns is a contract laden with an advance payment, trade bonus and fewer years. Instead of having Ayton under contract through the 2026-27 season, there would be the possibility of him becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2024 or 2025. A sign-and-trade is also an option, but that would require the Suns to cooperate.
Since the All-Star break, Booker was one of three players to average 30 points while shooting 50% from the field and 40% on 3-pointers, per ESPN Stats & Information research. The other players were Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum. He is also one of three players to average at least 25 points in each of the past four seasons, joining Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James. Defensively, he averaged a career-high 1.1 steals and held opponents to a career-best 41.9% as the closest defender (according to Second Spectrum tracking) and contested 88.4% of shots faced as the closest defender for the first time in his career. If there is a concern to the supermax it is the $113 million that Booker is owed in the final two seasons.
Crowder is entering the final year of his contract and is extension eligible. The forward is eligible to sign a four-year $58.3 million contract. Crowder started all 67 games he played this season, averaging 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and shooting 34.8% from 3. The future finances of Phoenix (new contracts for Ayton, Booker and Johnson) will certainly factor into the decision to extend Crowder.
Storyline: Jae Crowder Free Agency
Brook Lopez is entering the last year of his contract, and Milwaukee can extend him for four additional seasons and up to $74.7 million (a starting salary of $16.7 million in the first year). The veteran missed 69 games this season recovering from back surgery. Lopez continues to be a presence on the defensive end. Per Second Spectrum, he allowed opponents to shoot 48.8% in the restricted area when contesting shots as the closest defender over the past two seasons. That is the second lowest behind Jaren Jackson Jr. The projection for Lopez on an extension is two years, $20 million.