Jones told Burns & Gambo on Wednesday that he believes Deandre Ayton will be back with the Suns next season. “Deandre had an amazing season and he’s progressed every year and improved every year,” the GM said. “He’s been here and so he’s a big part of what we do. His future with us is something we will address at the proper time which is in the future. He’s a free agent and I’ve said all along, he’s about the same things we’re about which is winning. We’ll address it at the proper time.”
Do you believe that Deandre wants to be back with the Phoenix Suns? James Jones: I do. Deandre is a big part of what we do. That goes without saying.
On possible supermax deal for Devin Booker and rookie extension for Cam Johnson. If Booker makes All-NBA this year, he’ll be eligible for a four-year deal worth $211 million while Johnson is up for a rookie extension heading into his fourth NBA season: James Jones: “That’s a part of the business. As your team improves, typically your payroll increases. We’re focused on improving the team and those guys, they deserve the credit. They deserve the accolades and the financial rewards that come with being good players and productive players. It doesn’t preclude us from doing anything. We’re not talking about a luxury tax issues or avoiding those things. That’s not something that’s going to prevent us from continuing to build this team and keep this team together.”
“Had a great year, just one of those nights,” said O’Neal as Ayton finished in Sunday’s Game 7 against Dallas with a career playoff-low five points on 2-of-5 shooting. “Phoenix had a great year, just one of those nights. This is a classy organization. This is a classy team. Can’t say bad things about them. They played hard. Again, even great players have one of those nights.” O’Neal, and fellow TNT NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley discussed Ayton’s future with the Suns after the top overall seed was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday’s Game 7 in Phoenix. “You’ve got to re-sign Ayton,” Barkley said.
“(McGee) played well, he was a great addition to the team, but it all hinges on Deandre Ayton,” Barkley said. “It’s him and Booker. They are the guys going forward. Chris is going to be 38 (years old). He’s going to get the ball to the right person, but it’s time for Booker and Ayton. You can’t have a bad game like they did. Chris, he had a tough night, but Ayton and Booker, they’ve got to play well."
Deandre Ayton will be a restricted free agent this offseason after the Phoenix Suns were unable to sign him to an extension. "Going into this season, Deandre Ayton did not feel valued by this Phoenix organization," said Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday. "They were not able to come to an agreement on a rookie extension. He saw many of the top players of his class get extensions. He wanted a max deal. He would not move off that. "So now he moves toward restricted free agency this summer where now he'll have some more options. But ultimately Phoenix can still match an offer out there and keep him if he signs an offer sheet with another team."
"Deandre Ayton is going to get a max contract in the marketplace somewhere. Phoenix really has to look at the allocation financially of how they want to distribute salaries. "The relationship with Monty Williams had been one of the real benefits. I think their ability to work together and build a relationship. It will be interesting how that season ended impacts this. It will really be one of the stories of this offseason because there are a lot of teams figuring out how to acquire [Ayton]."
Gerald Bourguet: Monty Williams on whether DA is a part of the Suns' long-term plans: "Deandre's situation is something that we'll deal with this summer. I don't want to say anything in regards to that. James and I are going to have conversations about the team in general."
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.
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.
Ayton will be eligible to re-sign with the Suns for up to five years, $176.9 million. That would give him a starting salary of $30.5 and would propel Phoenix into a luxury tax payment starting in the low $30 million range. He is also eligible for up to four years, $131.2 million either through an offer sheet or sign-and-trade to another team. He will have a qualifying offer worth $16.4 million he can fall back on which would allow him to hit unrestricted free agency in 2023, but that scenario is unlikely.
The full maximum salary could be a sticking point in negotiations. If the Suns don’t offer it, it’s possible Ayton receives a maximum offer sheet for them to match. Just about every team with significant cap space could conceivably haveinterest in him, such as the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, and San Antonio Spurs. It seems more likely than not that the Suns will do what it takes to keep Ayton since losing him could ruin their title odds.
Given how you played this year, what is your optimism on getting the contract that you feel that you deserve from Phoenix? Deandre Ayton: I put that in God’s hands and my agent’s hands. I’ve just got to do my part and make sure we’re the last team standing in this thing when it is all said and done. The only thing I can control is getting a dub.
Michael Scotto: I’ve heard some people in that front office that have an eye for Jalen Brunson. I’ve also heard there are people in the front office that could see Mitchell Robinson, who’s an unrestricted Knicks free agent, as a guy that they’d also look at. Deandre Ayton’s name has been floated out there too. My observation on this is guys like Brunson and Robinson are targets for Detroit because they’ll command less money (than Ayton). With Ayton, you’d have to give him a full max to try to get him there and out of Phoenix going into his (restricted) free agency. I think that would be tough. Whereas, with Brunson, Dallas knows there’s going to be a market for him. One of the reasons they got Spencer Dinwiddie was a hedge to cover themselves depending on what the market bears for Brunson. The Knicks have Robinson entering free agency and also have an eye for Brunson with the relationship with Leon Rose. They do need a point guard looking ahead. Immanuel Quickley is there, but it seems like he’s viewed as a microwave scorer off the bench, and Tom Thibodeau likes him off the bench in that role.
James Edwards: I agree. I like Ayton. I don’t think they’re going to go that deep into the well for him. Same for Miles Bridges. He’s a guy that’s been attached to them because he’s from Flint, Michigan. I like Miles, but if you end up with a forward in the draft and you already have Saddiq Bey, I don’t see committing that type of money.
Scotto: Detroit is a team I’ve heard that has interest in him. They’ll be linked to Deandre Ayton as well. The price gap between Mitchell Robinson and Ayton is going to be pretty significant. If Detroit can get other free-agent acquisitions, I think they’re certainly going to look at Robinson. Harold Ellis, who used to work for the Knicks, is with Detroit, so they’ve got some good inside knowledge on Robinson there.
As noted, the Pistons are believed to be targeting a big man with their projected cap room this summer. Deandre Ayton may be their primary target, but many around the league expect the Phoenix Suns to retain him despite failing to reach an extension with him before the season.
But the deadline for Ayton came without the Suns presenting a max offer, thus making him a restricted free agent next offseason. “It didn’t work out and I got it out of my mind right away,” Ayton, 23, said. “What I can do to make it rub in everyone’s faces is to bust my ass, work hard and win games. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning. If you want to get something and earn something in this league, you have to be a winner. Do something that leads to winning. Me putting my head down and working is just closing out all of that noise. I’m not really worried about all of that.
“You had the time to do the negotiations. You had a deadline and it didn’t work out. Boom, Bada, Bing. You still got to work. You still got to play in between the lines. Still got to make sure this dude don’t dunk on me, score on me or do something to win the game. Still got to do that. And that’s just my competitive spirit.” Ayton, who is averaging 16.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game this season, plays like a throwback center, from his game to his sideburns to his competitive spirit. The 2019 NBA All-Rookie first-team selection can score in the post, knock down the midrange jumper and block shots. The spotlight of the class of 2018, however, has often shined on two hot-scoring popular guards in Doncic and Young, who have both been NBA All-Stars while Ayton has not.
Far away from home in Phoenix, it’s that Bahamian mindset that has helped Deandre Ayton have peace with his unrewarded contract situation with the Suns. “I’m not really worried about things like that and having all the stuff mixed in my head,” Ayton told The Undefeated recently. “I’m just putting my head down and working. Me? I’m from the Islands. We work for what we want. It is well-deserving with how I am playing right now. I’m going to bust my tail and get something I deserve.”
Deandre Ayton was upset an extension didn’t get done coming off a trip to the Finals and the way he played in the playoffs. So far this season, I’ve been told that he’s happy because he loves winning. His goal is to play at an All-Star level and get back to the championship with the Suns, and the rest of it (his next contract) will play itself out. Kudos to Monty Williams and Mark Bryant, who’ve been able to get through to him to keep his mindset in a good place. He’s on the edge of being top-15 in player efficiency rating in the league right now.
Part of the issue with Deandre Ayton not getting the extension was other guys getting the max extension and him believing that he’s just as important as those guys are, and he went to the Finals. He had some help with Chris Paul and Devin Booker, but he got to the Finals and was an integral part of that, so he’s looking at that, and he’s looking at the guys who got a max. The whole part of respect was huge for him, and not getting it was a sign of disrespect in his estimation.
Winning cures a lot of things, but a lot of it, too, is Deandre Ayton is playing for his future. If he keeps playing like this and they make another deep run, the negotiations that went on this past offseason will become serious discussions going into the next offseason. He’s setting the table early right now of what he is and what he’ll command this offseason.
Looking ahead towards the summer of 2022, teams with outright cap space are the Pistons, Magic, and Spurs. Deandre Ayton not really a good fit for the Magic, but I certainly think the Pistons or Spurs could use a guy like him. If you look at teams with around $20 million projected space according to SpoTrac, the Grizzlies, Thunder, and Knicks would be interesting to watch. If he leaves, and he plays at this level, it would be via a sign-and-trade if Phoenix doesn’t pay this guy. If he plays the way he has, he’s going to get a max or extremely close to it.
As the leader here, and a guy who is so good when it comes to the interpersonal stuff, what’s your perspective on DA (Ayton) and the question of whether there might be a butterfly effect negatively from his situation? And if so, how do you massage that? Monty Williams: Yeah, I don’t believe there will be because you still get to play ball. We all still get paid. For me — and I can’t speak for anybody else — my goal is to help guys win and get paid. So when a guy doesn’t get what he wants, and (the two sides) don’t agree, I take that like I didn’t do enough, you know what I’m saying? Like, that’s my job. And that’s how I look at it. You know what I mean? I heard all the stuff (about his situation), and I’ve been privy to information and conversations. But for me as a leader on the floor, that’s what I take seriously. Now I’m not the reason guys get paid. But when they don’t get what they want, or negotiations go awry. I’m like, ‘Well, how do I help them out?’ Because that’s my job is to help that guy achieve all those goals. That’s how I look at it.
The 23-year-old big man admitted he was not happy with how negotiations went and in turn will become a restricted free agent following the 2021-22 season. “With D.A. and his situation, we talked about it,” Paul told Yahoo Sports. “He knows what he has to do. The goal for everybody is to see everyone getting paid. His situation is what it is, but it’s going to work out for him. We hope it works out for him. The biggest thing we know we can do is go out there and win games.”
Duane Rankin: "One thing about me, throughout my whole life, I've always learned to control what I can control. At the same time, obviously I'm disappointed, but I'm still trying to get us back to the finals." #Suns big Deandre Ayton addressing contract talks as they ended w/o an extension. pic.twitter.com/nJPmkUMqCi
The 2018 No. 1 overall pick — who helped lead Phoenix to the 2021 NBA Finals — was reportedly expecting an offer, but it never came. Ayton expressed his disappointment about the development. He can still re-sign with the Suns in restricted free agency after fielding offers from around the league. “My biggest advice for him is: control what you can control and that’s how you go out and hoop,” Paul said, per AZ Central’s Duane Rankin. “Things happen, the business of the game, but I know DA’s heart … and how competitive he is. At the end of the day, he wants to do a good job for our team. And I appreciate him for that. I know when we step out on the court tonight, it’s going to be all about what he’s gotta do to help our team win.”
Scotto: Deandre and his representation, Billy Duffy and Nima Namakian, made it clear they wanted a max, and Phoenix made it clear they didn’t view him as a max player. With that in mind, I was checking in with executives around the league for their thoughts on the Ayton situation. The first executive said to me, “That owner (Robert Sarver) is cheap, and he’ll get killed for it again. He finally had some goodwill making the Finals, and he pulls this (not extending Ayton). The fact is the kid earned it. Yes, prior to last season, I’d have questions about it, but he performed the whole season, and you invested a number one pick in him. He was a little bit, maybe, slow to develop, but he got there. I don’t think he’s mature enough to handle stuff like that (no extension), so I think it could hurt him for a while. Monty (Williams) seems to have a way with him, so maybe they can pull him back in and say, “Do your job and get paid.”
Another executive focused on it from an optics standpoint. He was saying, “It was one thing not to do an extension with Ayton, but then to do one for Landry Shamet, who hasn’t even played for their team yet was surprising.”
Deandre Ayton maintained his “max or no deal” stance and will look to secure a maximum contract next offseason. After Mikal Bridges and Landry Shamet signed their respective extensions, the Suns are set to be significant taxpayers next year once they presumably give Ayton his next contract. Phoenix could have a luxury tax bill close to $45 million next season if Ayton receives a maximum salary. There certainly should be a team willing to offer a maximum deal to Ayton like the Pistons or Spurs next offseason. The maximum a new team can offer Ayton is $44.6 million less than the one the Suns can offer him.
Phoenix now faces an uncertain future with Deandre Ayton. The franchise center is unhappy with the franchise's consistent stance to his representatives that the organization simply didn't foresee him as a max player -- regardless of which of his peers in the 2018 NBA Draft class earned max deals this offseason, sources said.
Ayton, a key part of the Suns' run to the 2021 NBA Finals, held firm on wanting a full, five-year, max contract -- which would've been worth a guaranteed $172.5 million plus possible escalators -- but talks never progressed to the Suns making a formal offer on a max deal ahead of Monday's 6 p.m. ET deadline, sources told ESPN.
In recent weeks, Phoenix raised the concept of a shorter maximum contract deal -- perhaps over three or four years instead of the full five years -- but never formally made the offer or broached the idea again, sources said.
June 27, 2022 | 10:24 am EDT Update
Sam Amick: Joe, there are sources very close to the situation who strongly believe Irving is trying to make his way to the Lakers here and everything else is just (necessary) noise. The sense I get is that James is very open to the idea, but the dynamics are somewhat delicate too.
Sam Amick: Is the relationship between Irving and the Nets too far gone at this point, or is this just a case of tough negotiations? How does Durant see the Nets organization at the moment, not only in regards to the Irving situation but the James Harden mess that came before it as well? As for the Knicks, Alex, I’m also told from folks who would know that the (Brunson-focused) franchise has no real interest in Irving at the moment and fully expect him to return to Brooklyn on the contract of his choosing. As for the Clippers, I think they’re in wait-and-see mode (like a lot of teams right now) and trying to get a better understanding of all the dynamics at play here. We’ll know a whole lot more by week’s end.
Joe Vardon: Durant, meanwhile, is a different situation. He has four years left on his contract, starting at $43 million this year. At that big of a number, the return on such a trade would be so lucrative for Brooklyn that it would likely be able to turn around whatever “rebuild” it was undertaking very quickly. To your point, Alex, Tsai and Marks recognize this, and it’s working into their math. All of the grumbling about Durant considering his options … well, he doesn’t really have any. I mean, like other NBA stars, Durant could force his team to trade him, but when, where and for whom is totally up to the Nets. And league rules regarding trades being what they are, they would get a huge return for one of the very best players in the sport.
Alex Schiffer: Marks has said before that he consults Irving and Durant on some of the organization’s major decisions and said as recently as May that Durant wouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens. So I would think he’s had a heads up to all of this even if he doesn’t like it. As for a Durant return, I asked a league source a few days ago about such a deal and the reply was, “Look up the Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers and start there.”
Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo each have team options, both of which have to be decided on by Tuesday. Diallo has a $5.2 million team option and, per sources, the Pistons are expected to pick his up. As for Jackson, sources tell The Athletic the Pistons are not expected to pick up his $3.1 million option. If Detroit does, it could be to execute a trade. All in all, though, I don’t anticipate Jackson being on this team next season. Then there’s the decision to bring back Marvin Bagley III, who was acquired from the Kings around the trade deadline and is a restricted free agent. Every inclination that I’ve received is that the Pistons have every intention of bringing back Bagley, who has a $28 million cap hold.
With those moves in mind, Detroit will need to add five to six players via free agency or trade to round out the roster. As I reported last week, even with room to sign a player to a max contract, the Pistons are unlikely to throw max offers at the likes of restricted free agents Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges, though things can change. Instead, signs point to Detroit looking to add quality, veteran role players to pair with its young core as it furthers this rebuild. Maintaining financial flexibility moving forward is still important to the franchise, per sources, with the 2023 free agency class expected to be far better-stocked than this year’s group. On the trade front, Detroit could elect to use its cap space to acquire undesirable contracts and picks, adding potential rotational players that way.
Keith Smith: No NBA option or contract guarantee deadlines today. However, there is a big Traded Player Exception that expires today: Dallas Mavericks – $10,865,952 – Josh Richardson Mavs are already facing a hefty tax bill, so using this TPE would only drive that even higher.