NBA Rumor: Deandre Ayton Free Agency

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Deandre Ayton happy with Suns because of winning

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.

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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.

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.

Chris Paul on Deandre Ayton contract situation: He knows what he has to do

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.”

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.”

NBA exec on Robert Sarver not offering Deandre Ayton a max extension: 'That owner is cheap'

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.”

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.
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December 1, 2021 | 8:13 pm EST Update