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Report: Suns Pick Up DeAndre Ayton's, Mikal Bridges' 3rd-Year Contract Options

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2019

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and forward Mikal Bridges (25) stand on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns have picked up the third-year team options on the contracts of DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Per that report, "Phoenix has raved about Ayton throughout summer as he enters sophomore season."

Both Ayton and Bridges played key roles for the Suns in their rookie seasons. Ayton, 21, appeared in 71 games (70 starts) last season, averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. While fellow rookies like Luka Doncic and Trae Young stole the spotlight, Ayton had a solid rookie season.

If he can continue to improve as a rim protector, he'll more than justify his selection as the top overall pick in the 2018 draft. And all indications are that Ayton is poised for a big sophomore season.

"You can see the difference, for sure," Devin Booker told Cody Cunningham of the team's website regarding Ayton. "Just a different animal. ... He has his goals and he wants to achieve them. He knows he's going to have to put the work in and go out there and perform. He's coming in with that mentality every day."

"He's locked in," first-year Sun Aron Baynes added. "He's very professional in the way he's carried himself since I've been here, and I'm excited to work with that because you can't teach that professionalism. It's something he takes upon himself to do that every single day. It's going to be fun to work with."

The draft rights to Bridges were acquired by the Suns in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, and the No. 10 overall pick showed why the Suns pursued him on draft night. The Villanova product appeared in all 82 games (56 starts) while averaging 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

The 6'7" forward quickly moved ahead of Josh Jackson on the depth chart, making the 2017 No. 4 overall pick expendable. The Suns traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies this summer, leaving Bridges, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Cameron Johnson and Tyler Johnson to handle wing duties. 

Bridges was acquired to be a three-and-D wing, and while he showed his defensive upside, he shot just 33.5 percent from beyond the arc last season. Improving in that area will be key for Bridges, especially if he wants to earn major minutes at a crowded wing position. 

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