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Woj: Suns Expected to Match Deandre Ayton's $133M Contract Offer Sheet from Pacers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 14, 2022

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are reportedly expected to match the four-year, $133 million max offer sheet center Deandre Ayton has received from the Indiana Pacers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Per that report, the Suns "haven't shown an interest in negotiating a sign-and-trade on Ayton with the Pacers."

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

ESPN Sources: Restricted free agent C Deandre Ayton has signed the four-year, $133M offer sheet with the Pacers and now the Suns are on the clock to match it. Expectation remains that the Suns will do so and retain Ayton, but they could take the process through Saturday night.

If the Suns do match the offer sheet, they would be unable to trade Ayton until Jan. 15, though the young center would have full veto rights on any deal for a calendar year.

The Pacers also made a series of moves to clear the needed cap space to sign Ayton outright:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

The Pacers are waiving guard Duane Washington and waiving and stretching the three players who arrived in the Boston trade for Malcolm Brogdon: Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and Nik Stauskas, sources tell ESPN. That'll create the cap space to sign Ayton to the max offer sheet.

Until Ayton officially signs the offer sheet, he could be part of a sign-and-trade deal. Once he signs it, however, that option disappears, and the Suns—who balked at offering him a max extension in the past—will be deciding between matching the offer and keeping Ayton, or watching him walk without receiving anything in return.

Contending teams generally aren't in the business of just letting key players walk for nothing, even if it means overpaying:

NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA

.<a href="https://twitter.com/WindhorstESPN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WindhorstESPN</a> reacts to Deandre Ayton agreeing to a max offer sheet with the Pacers: <br><br>"[The Suns] do not believe Ayton is a max player." <a href="https://t.co/IkPUrdCY3s">pic.twitter.com/IkPUrdCY3s</a>

Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA

If I were the Suns I'd bite the bullet and match on Ayton, even though I don't think he's worth the money. When you're a championship contender you can't just lose someone who really helps you for nothing.

Gerald Bourguet @GeraldBourguet

The Suns need to match that Deandre Ayton offer. No if ands or buts about it. Kevin Durant deal is still not impossible, but it’ll probably be on the back burner now. Just can’t let him walk for nothing

Dan Favale @danfavale

for people in my replies: "the suns have no decision here" does not amount to "i trust a sarver-controlled team to make the right call" lol

Ayton signing the offer sheet also makes it highly unlikely the Suns will be able to land Kevin Durant in a trade unless they were willing to part with a player like Devin Booker—which almost assuredly won't happen—or get rid of almost all of their depth pieces and key role players like Mikal Bridges to match salaries (alongside a mountain of draft picks and pick swaps).

NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA

"[The Suns] are not eliminated but it certainly does complicate a lot of things here with Durant."<br><br>—<a href="https://twitter.com/BobbyMarks42?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BobbyMarks42</a> on the Suns matching Deandre Ayton's offer sheet with the Pacers <a href="https://t.co/4p9HU8AOAg">pic.twitter.com/4p9HU8AOAg</a>

The 23-year-old averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this past season, shooting 63.4 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three. While he isn't an elite rim-protector, he's a solid enough defender and an excellent pick-and-roll pairing for a player like Chris Paul or Tyrese Haliburton, depending on his team next season.

The Suns may have a window to explore trades before Ayton officially signs the offer sheet, but the Pacers and the young center have pretty firmly put a deadline on that option. Once he signs, the Suns are going to have to decide between what they consider to be an overpay to keep Ayton that takes them around $15 million into the luxury tax, or simply waving goodbye.

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