The Phoenix Suns’ decision to match the four-year, $133M max offer sheet the Indiana Pacers presented to DeAndre Ayton shows their intention to run it back with the same core next year.
After matching the offer, Ayton can’t be traded without his consent for an entire year. He will be ineligible for trade until January 15, 2023.
The Suns also hold the record for the largest matched contract in NBA history. Ayton’s contract surpassed the 4-year, $106.5M deal given to Otto Porter in 2017 by the Washington Wizards (via ESPN Stats & Info).
If the Suns match Ayton's offer with the Pacers it will be the largest matched contract in NBA history.
Surpassing the 4-year/$106.5M deal given to Otto Porter in 2017 by the Wizards. https://t.co/AW06bGu1F9
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 14, 2022
Phoenix Suns had no intention to let DeAndre Ayton go
The Suns knew that if they didn’t match the Pacers’ offer sheet, they would lose the former No.1 pick for nothing. They didn’t want that to happen.
While they don’t consider him a max-level player, they know he is one of the best big men in the league. His departure would be harmful to the franchise.
Ayton has elevated his game since joining the NBA in 2018. He has averaged a double-double in four straight seasons, improving several aspects of his game.
Last season, he averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting 63% from the field (career-high).
He was among the Suns’ top players alongside Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Ayton was a key part of a historic regular season for the Suns, who set a new winning record in franchise history (64-18).
So, keeping him on the roster will benefit Phoenix, as DeAndre Ayton is nowhere near his prime yet.
Phoenix Suns aim to run it back with the same core next season
The fact that they matched the Pacers’ offer sheet also shows they view DeAndre Ayton as a cornerstone player.
The Suns have dominated the regular season for two straight years; however, they have come up short in the playoffs.
In 2021, they lost the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games (4-2), despite leading the series 2-0.
In 2022, they lost to the Dallas Mavericks in seven games (4-3) and got eliminated from the Western Conference Finals, despite having the home-court advantage.
The Suns have proved their title contender status and are ready to win the championship. Chris Paul and Devin Booker are the superstar duo of the team, while Ayton has emerged as the third star.
He has been an integral part of the Suns’ success over the past couple of years and is an excellent fit to head coach Monty Williams’ tactics.
DeAndre Ayton has been dominant inside the paint on both ends. He is an effective scorer, great rebounder and solid defender. Even though Phoenix believes he is not a max-level player, they understand how valuable he is to the team.
The Suns made clear throughout free agency that the franchise intended to bring Ayton back – and were committed to spend in order to continue competing for a title around All-NBA star Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Ayton. Phoenix now goes approximately $15M into the tax. https://t.co/PCVHYtk6OH
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 15, 2022