Phoenix Suns match Indiana Pacers’ max offer sheet for center Deandre Ayton
The Phoenix Suns have decided to match the Indiana Pacers’ offer sheet to restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, per The Athletic‘s Shams Charania.
“There was never a chance the Suns were not going to match the offer sheet,” Gambadoro tweeted. “Was told Deandre Ayton is a part of the Suns core going forward. Pacers did inquire about sending Myles Turner to the Suns in a sign and trade but Suns had no interest in Turner.”
Charania adds that Phoenix “now goes approximately $15M into the tax” and “made clear throughout free agency” that the team wanted to bring Ayton back to build title contender with Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
With the Suns matching, the team cannot trade the center until Jan. 15 at the earliest. Ayton also has the power to veto a trade for a full year.
The news of Phoenix’s decision comes after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that Ayton had signed a max offer sheet that extends four years and is worth $133 million.
Wojnarowski added that the expectation was for Phoenix to match Indiana’s offer.
The Suns surprised many around the league by not coming to terms on a max contract extension with the 2018 NBA Draft’s first overall pick last summer.
Ayton, far from the only reason Phoenix fell in the conference semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks, had an inconsistent playoff run and was benched by head coach Monty Williams in the Game 7 blowout loss that ended the team’s season.
According to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro and others, the Suns at the very least listened to a proposal centered around then-Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis and Ayton before the February trade deadline. That trade did not materialize, and Sabonis was instead dealt to the Sacramento Kings.
Still, Ayton, who turns 24 this month, was a key factor all year.
He averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game this regular season, shooting a career-high 64.3% despite expanding his offensive repertoire in short-roll situations and with midrange jumpers.