ESPN’s Bontemps: Suns, Deandre Ayton future among dominant offseason questions

Jun 20, 2022, 9:20 AM | Updated: 9:38 am

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns talks to referee Tom Washington #49 during the second half of...

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns talks to referee Tom Washington #49 during the second half of Game Four of the Western Conference First Round against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on April 24, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The 2021-22 NBA season just wrapped up, with the Golden State Warriors beating the Boston Celtics in six games in the NBA Finals.

Now the league shifts to its offseason that never seems to lack drama. This year, there’s plenty of questions, including a big one centering the Phoenix Suns.

That of course would be the decision the franchise has to make with center Deandre Ayton, the former No. 1 overall pick who is set to be a restricted free agent.

In ESPN’s Tim Bontemps 10 questions that will dominate the NBA offseason, whether Ayton remains in Phoenix made the cut.

Bontemps says what a difference a year can make, how a year ago after the Suns were bounced in the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks it looked as if Ayton was in line for a supermax extension.

The Suns’ brass clearly felt different and now a year later, after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round, Ayton’s future in Phoenix is as murky as ever.

Ayton was benched for most of that (Game 7) second half — the future of the 2018 No.1 pick is unclear.

Will Phoenix agree to a sign-and-trade deal with Ayton to reshape the roster and move on from him? Or will he sign an offer sheet elsewhere that would likely lead to the Suns matching?

Should a team make an offer sheet for Ayton, it would be in the four-year $130 million ballpark and gives the Suns the chance to match.

Would Phoenix be willing to do that after not offering the center a supermax a year ago, which would’ve been a five-year $177 million deal?

Then there’s the sign-and-trade option, a route that’s seemed to gain traction for the Suns to use in order to get assets back for Ayton rather than losing him in free agency.

The Suns aren’t the only franchise facing critical questions this offseason. Among Bontemps other questions, a handful are centered around fellow teams in the Western Conference.

Bontemps other top questions are how the Warriors reload for a title defense? What will the Los Angeles Lakers do around LeBron James and Anthony Davis? And what direction are the Utah Jazz heading in?

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ESPN’s Bontemps: Suns, Deandre Ayton future among dominant offseason questions