Suns GM James Jones: Deandre Ayton wanted 5-year max, nothing less

Oct 19, 2021, 1:10 PM | Updated: 5:46 pm

Phoenix Suns interim GM James Jones sits during an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 ...

Phoenix Suns interim GM James Jones sits during an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 11, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

(Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones said that the team and center Deandre Ayton “didn’t have real negotiations” in regards to the rookie max extension, Jones told Sam Amick of The Athletic.

The deadline to extend Ayton came and went on Monday, meaning the big man will become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the upcoming season.

Jones broke the silence talking to Amick when he mentioned why the two sides really were nowhere close to a deal.

“We know it’s important to us; it’s important to him that we continue to progress and we continue to develop and we win (a title). So when we talked about a focus this offseason, it was to continue to build this team. So for us, unfortunately, we are where we are (with Ayton). No agreement. We didn’t have real negotiations,” Jones said.

“You talk about conversations — it was five-year, max extension like the other peers, the other former No. 1 picks, and that’s where the conversation started and ended. Anything less than a five-year max wasn’t something to be considered — not something to talk about. It’s evident. They talk about us having discussions on a three-year, four-year max (deals). Those are real.”

Jones seemed to emphasize the team wanted to get a deal done, but the 23-year-old center wouldn’t listen to anything under the five-year max.

Although the Suns’ camp said they wanted to complete a deal, Ayton’s side seems to have a different view of how the situation unfolded.

But Ayton’s agents strongly disagree and were adamant in multiple conversations with The Athletic on Tuesday that a max deal of any kind was never offered even informally. From beginning to end, they said, the organization’s unmistakable message from Sarver on down was that Ayton wasn’t viewed as worthy of a max deal. In response, Jones said, “They know that a three- or four-year max was not an (acceptable) option for them.”

Amick also mentions how the league’s collective bargaining agreement states that each team cannot have more than two rookie designated max extensions, so adding Ayton to Devin Booker’s max could cripple the Suns’ ability to add a third player on a similar five-year deal.

The Suns’ general manager goes on to say that although the two sides did not have much of a conversation at all, he believes Ayton is still committed to bringing a championship to Phoenix.

“I mean, ultimately we want the same thing, and we’ll find a way to get there,” Jones told Amick. “He wants to be here. We want him here. We’re dedicated to his growth, to his development. It’s the same as day one. That hasn’t changed.”

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