On Thursday, restricted free agent C Deandre Ayton signed a four-year, $133 million offer sheet(largest offer sheet in league history) with the Indiana Pacers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
However, later in the day, Wojnarowski reported that the Suns would match the offer and retain Ayton.
The fourth-year center cannot be traded before January 15 and can’t be dealt without his permission for one year.
Last season, Ayton averaged a double-double for the fourth straight season, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. Unfortunately, the Suns, who had the best record in the NBA, fell to the Mavs in seven games in the Western Conference semifinals. In that seventh game against the Mavs, where the Suns were routed 123-90 by Dallas, Ayton scored only five points in 17 minutes of action.
The 23-year-old was removed in the the third and did not return. Ayton appeared to have some words with Suns coach Monty Williams. After the game, when asked about Ayton, Williams said, “It’s internal.” To this point, Ayton has not addressed the situation.
The Suns could not afford to let Ayton go without any compensation; that would have been very bad, especially when you consider Chris Paul is 37 and Devin Booker is in his prime, so Phoenix had no choice but to match the offer for Ayton.
At this point, Phoenix seemingly doesn’t have the assets to get Kevin Durant, who requested a trade and reportedly had the Suns on his list of teams he was willing to play for next season, but again, any deal with Ayton can’t be executed until January, so it appears at this point, Phoenix will be running back the team that won a league-high 64 games, which means they will have a championship contending team.
Will it be enough?
It hasn’t been the last two seasons, but they have been close. Hopefully, for them, Ayton continues to ascend, Booker continues to play like a star, and Paul continues to get the job done and stay healthy. However, the world-champion Warriors will be just as good and possibly better with the addition of James Wiseman(missed all of last season), the Clippers will have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard back; the Nuggets will have a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr to go along with MVP Nikola Jokic; LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the Lakers should be healthy, and Luka Doncic and the Mavs will be tough; it won’t be easy for Phoenix, but getting Ayton back sure helps.