Deandre Ayton Rumors: Pistons Expected to 'Heavily Pursue' Center in Free Agency

Erin WalshJune 23, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 10: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns celebrates against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 10, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons will have a plethora of cap space this summer, and it appears they are targeting one player who could be on the move this offseason after failing to come to terms on an extension with his current team.

The Pistons are expected to "heavily" pursue Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton, who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, according to The Athletic's James L. Edwards III.

Phoenix can match any offer Ayton receives, though it doesn't seem like the franchise is willing to pay the expected high price tag to retain his services. According to Edwards III and John Hollinger, it is more likely that the veteran center is playing elsewhere next season.

Ayton, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, wanted the Suns to give him a five-year maximum contract, which would have been worth $172.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst.

The deal would have put the 23-year-old in the same category as Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr., all of whom received maximum contract extensions over the last year. However, Wojnarowski reported in October that the Suns didn't think Ayton was in the same category as those players and were reluctant to sign him to a max deal.

It certainly seems like the Pistons will be willing to offer Ayton a significant deal, especially after offloading Jerami Grant's 2022-23 salary that was worth nearly $21 million in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Come July, the Pistons are projected to have $56 million in cap space, according to Spotrac's Keith Smith. That should be more than enough money for the franchise to target Ayton, who would immediately step into Detroit's lineup as the starting center, replacing Isaiah Stewart.

Ayton has blossomed into an impressive young player for the Suns. During the 2021-22 season, he averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 63.4 percent from the floor.

Adding Ayton to a lineup that also includes Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Marvin Bagley III and whoever the team selects with the No. 5 pick could help the Pistons contend for a playoff spot in 2022-23.

That said, a number of teams are expected to pursue the Arizona product this summer, including the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks, among others. But with the Pistons projected to have the most cap space in the NBA, it seems like the most logical landing spot is Detroit.