Suns' Deandre Ayton on New Contract: 'I Put That in God’s Hands and My Agent’s Hands'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 8, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 24: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during Game Four of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at the Smoothie King Center on April 24, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

As the Phoenix Suns look to chart a course back to the NBA Finals, star center Deandre Ayton isn't sweating his impending free agency.

"I put that in God’s hands and my agent’s hands," he told the New York Times' Sopan Deb about getting a contract from the Suns that's reflective of his value. "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."

When a young player emerges as a possible franchise cornerstone, teams often won't hesitate to put a max contract on the table as soon as they can. In contrast, the absence of an extension can speak to some deeper reservations from the front office.

Like Ayton, Luka Doncic (five years, $212.3 million), Trae Young (five years, $207 million) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (four years, $104.7 million) were top-five picks in the 2018 NBA draft, and they've already secured their next deal.

If they were on the fence about Ayton, the Suns should've seen enough by now to make negotiations pretty straightforward.

The 23-year-old averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks during the regular season. In the postseason, when big men can be played off the floor, he's putting up 19.2 points and 9.0 boards in 32.7 minutes per game.

According to NBA.com, Phoenix has been 9.1 points per 100 possessions better with Ayton on the floor.

The 2018 No. 1 overall pick will be a restricted free agent once the team tables the $16.4 million qualifying offer for next year. That will give general manager James Jones the opportunity to match an offer sheet from another franchise.

If he maintained some bitterness toward the Suns and wanted to prove a point, then Ayton could sign the qualifying offer in order to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. He could also make it clear he doesn't want to play another game for the organization and force a trade.

Ayton indicated to Deb he was disappointed to not get a max offer last summer but appears to have moved on from the matter:

Sopan Deb @SopanDeb

Ayton on not receiving the max and whether he expects it this summer: <a href="https://t.co/xBs1WrmHXw">pic.twitter.com/xBs1WrmHXw</a>

Perhaps Ayton could've been more definitive in saying he wants to stay in Phoenix, but it's difficult to envision he and the Suns going their separate ways this offseason.