Jerry Colangelo: Wait on contract part of Suns C Deandre Ayton’s growth

Oct 22, 2021, 8:32 AM | Updated: 8:42 am
Former Phoenix sports executive Jerry Colangelo interviews with Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 10, 2020. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

Jerry Colangelo understands how the business world works, and the former owner of the Phoenix Suns also knows first-hand that professional athletes might have to learn that the hard way.

With that perspective, Colangelo doesn’t have a steaming opinion of how the Suns have handled the contract situation of fourth-year center Deandre Ayton. In fact, Colangelo has an optimistic view of the team failing to agree with Ayton on a contract extension before the 2021-22 season began, making the big man a restricted free agent next offseason.

“First of all, I don’t ever second-guess anyone else in terms of making decisions. They’re intelligent, they know what they’re doing, they’ve weighed the pluses and minuses of stepping into that right now or waiting it out,” Colangelo told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Friday.

“That’s part of the business today. The money is so big, (the Suns) have to be 100% sure they want to move forward. I think probably it’s all going to work out at some point and it’ll be part of Deandre Ayton’s growth in terms of a business man to understand this is how the world really plays.”

Phoenix holds significant control moving into next season.

The team can extend a qualifying offer to make Ayton a restricted free agent. He can attract offers from other teams, any of which the Suns can match. Phoenix can also offer him more money and more years (up to five) than any other team.

A third option for Ayton would put him at extreme risk: He could sign the qualifying offer of $16.4 million for one year, keeping him in Phoenix before he becomes a restricted free agent in the 2023-24 offseason.

But that would leave likely hundreds of millions of dollars on the table. No player contending for max dollars has ever gone that route.

In short, the Suns can get another full-year look at Ayton and still offer him the money and a multi-year deal they reportedly weren’t sure about handing out this offseason.

Clearly, the team and Ayton’s agents had less-than-ideal negotiations.

Suns general manager James Jones said Ayton’s representatives would only consider a five-year maximum contract, while his agents told The Athletic’s Sam Amick that the team never put a three- or four-year contract offer squarely on the table.

Ayton said he is “disappointed” a deal did not get done.

“Really one thing about me throughout my whole life, I’ve always learned to control what I can control,” Ayton told reporters Wednesday after the season opener. “At the same time, obviously I’m disappointed but I’m still trying to get us back to the Finals.

“I still have to represent the team and myself as well. And I’m just a competitor, man. I just like to compete to the best and every time I’m between them lines that’s what you’re gonna see outta me, nothing else.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at the start of the the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23...
Associated Press

2022-23 NBA schedule clears Election Day of games

The NBA's schedule for the coming season will have all 30 teams playing on Nov. 7, the night before the midterm elections.
16 hours ago
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Dwight Powell #7 of the Dallas Mavericks jump for the ope...
Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns get rematch vs. Mavericks on opening night, per report

The Phoenix Suns' regular season will begin at home against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 19, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
2 days ago
The Phoenix Suns mascot "The Gorilla" on the court before NBA game against the Golden State Warrior...
Arizona Sports

Report: Phoenix Suns to play Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day

The Phoenix Suns will head to Denver to face the Nuggets on Christmas Day this upcoming season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported. 
3 days ago
Bill Russell, left, star of the Boston Celtics is congratulated by coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach afte...
Kevin Zimmerman

NBA retires No. 6 jerseys, to add jersey patch honoring late Bill Russell

Bill Russell's No. 6 jersey is the first to be retired across the NBA. Players will wear the patch on the shoulders this year.
6 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the first half of Game One of the Western Confere...
Kevin Zimmerman

ESPN’s NBA staff still mighty high on 2022-23 Phoenix Suns

If you were wondering why the Suns have attacked the offseason with tinkering, it might be time to remember the past two full seasons.
7 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles safety Marc...
Arizona Sports

Larry Fitzgerald, Pedro Gomez in 2022 Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class

Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald and late journalist Pedro Gomez are among the 2022 class entering the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
7 days ago
Jerry Colangelo: Wait on contract part of Suns C Deandre Ayton’s growth