James Jones: Suns preferred deal shorter than 5 years for Deandre Ayton

Oct 20, 2021, 5:17 PM

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks to pass around Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets d...

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns looks to pass around Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets during the NBA game at Phoenix Suns Arena on January 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns tip off their 2021-22 season on Wednesday night at Footprint Center against the Denver Nuggets.

But prior to the NBA’s opening night, the time period for contract extensions for players on rookie contracts came to a close.

And with that came a four-year, $90 million extension for Suns forward Mikal Bridges and a four-year, $43 million deal for guard Landry Shamet.

However, the obvious missing name from that list is Phoenix’s No. 1 overall pick in 2018, center Deandre Ayton.

On Wednesday, Suns general manager James Jones told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo that Ayton wanted nothing less than a five-year deal, but that the team wasn’t interested in offering a contract of that length.

“For a multitude of reasons but ultimately when we looked at it from a team-building or roster construction standpoint, it just wasn’t our preference,” Jones said. “And we decided that that wasn’t something we wanted to do. That’s really what it came down to.”

“We had great discussions initially, he added. “We discussed a multitude of things but ultimately, a four-year deal, a three-year deal just wasn’t something that was an option. And it was five years and that’s it. So that’s pretty much where it ended.

“Like I said it’s unfortunate because it’s not reflective of our commitment, our desire to Deandre. It’s just at that point in time, we couldn’t come to an agreement.”

Jones and Ayton will now have to shift their focus from the negotiating table to the court, which is something the general manager is not too worried about spilling over onto the hardwood as the Suns look to defend their Western Conference title.

“For us and for a multitude of reasons that the five-year max wasn’t something that we were gonna do. We just couldn’t get beyond that and so everything else really didn’t matter,” Jones said. “Nothing else really happened. No other conversations were considered.

“Like I said, it’s something that for us we just hope as we continue to build this team and as we go on this journey this year to chase a championship that people will understand that the commitment to this team, the commitment to winning by everyone involved — the coaches, the front office the players — that we’re all on the same page and that eventually we’ll get to where we need to be.”

And after coming off a season in which Phoenix reached just its third NBA Finals in franchise history, head coach Monty Williams and Co. will now have much higher expectations going into this season compared to last year.

“I’m not worried about that. I’m not concerned about that,” Jones said. “I’ve said before that I’m more focused on making sure that these expectations we have for ourselves that we don’t get overly locked in and too stressed about excellence and trying to win a title. That puts more pressure on people than anything else when you set a high goal. …

“The way Deandre approaches the game, the way our guys approach the game — they just play, they just compete, they just hoop and that’s why they’ve improved and I expect that to be the case this year too.”

Phoenix Suns

Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American ...

Tom Kuebel

Kevin Durant addresses pregame hecklers, ensures Mavs fans not removed

Pregame hecklers interrupted Kevin Durant's pregame warmup routine with some vulgar words from the stands but were not removed from the game.

5 hours ago

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives inside as  Kyrie Irving #11 of the Dallas Mavericks defe...

Kellan Olson

Brief lapses doom Phoenix Suns in loss to Dallas Mavericks

The Phoenix Suns played well enough in spurts to win on Thursday but lacked a collective effort to beat the Mavericks in a 123-113 loss.

8 hours ago

Isaiah Stewart #28 of the Detroit Pistons reacts against the Brooklyn Nets in the second half at Ba...

Arizona Sports

Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart suspended 3 games for punching Suns’ Drew Eubanks

Pistons C Isaiah Stewart has been suspended three games by the NBA after Phoenix Suns C Drew Eubanks said he was "sucker-punched" by Stewart.

14 hours ago

Thaddeus Young #21 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball as JT Thor #21 of the Charlotte Hornets...

Kellan Olson

Thaddeus Young will do ‘whatever it takes’ in veteran role for Suns

Thaddeus Young arrives in the Valley as a signing off the buyout market after the Suns nearly acquired him on two separate occasions.

1 day ago

Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns posts up on Kris Dunn #11 of the Utah Jazz during the second ha...

Arizona Sports

Bradley Beal out for Suns’ 1st game back vs. Mavericks

Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal is out for the team's first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday in Dallas against the Mavericks.

1 day ago

Frank Vogel...

Kevin Zimmerman

Suns’ Frank Vogel talks Kevin Durant’s leadership, Bradley Beal’s injury status

Phoenix Suns coach Frank Vogel discussed Kevin Durant's leadership after Charles Barkley's comments and updated us on Bradley Beal's status.

2 days ago

James Jones: Suns preferred deal shorter than 5 years for Deandre Ayton