Deandre Ayton signed a four-year $133 million max contract offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers today, rocking the NBA community. The strong center is undoubtedly the most rending news this Thursday, but it seems that even bigger developments can happen over the next few days.
Even though Ayton signed with the Pacers, he still isn’t their player because the Suns have enough time to match this offer and keep the former top pick. Their reaction and future steps might tell us a lot about the developments in the league over the next few weeks.
If Phoenix matches the offer sheet, which is, by the way, the biggest in history, then it would be hard to land Durant. Ayton can’t be traded until mid-January, and the Suns wouldn’t have room in the salary cap to add Durant.
RFA center Deandre Ayton has agreed to a four-year, $133M maximum offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, his agents Nima Namakian (Innovate Sports) and Bill Duffy (BDA Sports + WME Sports) tell ESPN. The Phoenix Suns have 48 hours to match the largest offer sheet in NBA history.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 14, 2022
On the other side, if they allow him to leave without matching a sheet, be sure that the Suns are going to use all of their resources to complete the deal with the former NBA MVP and form another super team.
Phoenix now has two days to match the sheet, and we’ll see what happens in the upcoming 48 hours.
He was the No.1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, which was one of the strongest in the last decade, and includes Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr., Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander etc. Ayton immediately established himself as a vital part of the Suns’ team and, as time went by, grew into one of the best two-way centers in the league.
He is a reliable scorer who averaged 16.3 points in 236 games played while shooting almost 60% from the field, and besides that, grabbing 10.5 boards with one block per game. But his presence on the other end of the floor is even more impactful because Ayton became one of the best defenders in the NBA. We might say that the big fella is the critical piece of the Suns’ defensive puzzle, meaning that his departure could disrupt the entire structure Monty Williams had in that area.
Most PPG on 60+ FG% in 2022:
17.2 — Deandre Ayton
16.1 — Jarrett Allen
15.6 — Rudy Gobert pic.twitter.com/KwKf436cjY
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 14, 2022
On the other side, if the Pacers get Ayton, that will be a massive plus for Rick Carlisle and his crew. The franchise from Indianapolis made radical changes in the 2021/22 campaign, trading Domantas Sabonis, who was the key player in their equation. After that, Malcolm Brogdon went to Boston, and it seems that the Pacers are starting from scratch.
Indiana has a young and physically very gifted unit. Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield, who arrived from Sacramento, are the new leaders, with last year’s rookie Chris Duarte. This year’s No.6 pick, Bennedict Mathurin, is also projected to be a great player. With an experienced Myles Turner, plus a few more signings during the free agency, the Pacers could quickly become one of the biggest surprises in the Eastern Conference.
It is all up to Phoenix and the choice they make. The relationship between Ayton on one, and Williams and the Suns’ management deteriorated in the last season, and neither side wanted to hide that, so the chances of seeing him in Phoenix next season are too low.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.