Deandre Ayton is just 23 years old and a major reason the Phoenix Suns reached last season's NBA Finals, but the front office wasn't interested in making a long-term max commitment to the big man this offseason.
General manager James Jones said on the Burns and Gambo Show (h/t Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports) the decision to not sign Ayton to a five-year max extension happened for multiple reasons, including a preference on roster construction.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday that contract discussions between Ayton and the team ended when Suns governor Robert Sarver didn't offer a max rookie extension. The deadline for such deals for 2018 draft picks was Monday at 6 p.m. ET.
A number of players from that class, including Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Wendell Carter Jr., Mikal Bridges, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr., have received deals:
Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42
Extensions so far:<br><br>3: L. Doncic: 5/$207.1 million<br>5: T. Young: 5/$172.5 million<br>7: W.Carter Jr.: 4/$50 million<br>10: Mk.Bridges: 4/$90 million <br>11: S. Gilgeous-Alexander: 5/$172.5 million<br>14: M. Porter Jr.: 5/$172.5 million<br>27: R.Williams: 4/$48 million<br><br>Total of $913M
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported on his podcast that Ayton wanted the "Trae Young max" of five years and $172.6 million.
"That's what his expectation was," Windhorst said. "The Suns were not willing to give him a five-year contract."
Ayton is now scheduled for restricted free agency following the 2021-22 campaign, although the Suns will still have the ability to match any offer sheets he receives from other teams. Yossi Gozlan of Hoops Hype noted they can also offer $44.6 million more than teams like the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs even if they offer max contracts.
The Arizona product was the No. 1 overall pick of that 2018 draft class and has averaged a double-double in each of his first three seasons. He posted 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a night for last season's NBA Finals team.
While he struggled to match up with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Finals loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, he was an integral part of the postseason run and bolstered his totals with 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs.
He figures to build on that in the coming seasons, although his future is somewhat uncertain without the contract extension.