It was announced on Thursday that restricted free agency centre Deandre Ayton had agreed to terms with the Indiana Pacers, according to Ayton’s agents Bill Duffy and Nima Namakian. The deal is for four years and a maximum of $133 million.
There are only two days left for the Suns to match the NBA’s highest offer sheet and keep Ayton, or give him to the Pacers for nothing. For comparison, Otto Porter Jr. signed a four-year, $107 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017; a contract that the Washington Wizards eventually matched.
Once Ayton accepts Indiana’s offer sheet, sign-and-trade transactions are out of the question.
Phoenix has yet to indicate interest in a sign-and-trade deal with Indiana, but ESPN sources say they expect Phoenix to match Ayton’s record $133 million offer sheet if he accepts it.
Full story on restricted free agent C Deandre Ayton agreeing to largest offer sheet in NBA history with Pacers — four years, $133 million, his agents Bill Duffy and Nima Namakian tell ESPN: https://t.co/P1Jt4R74fM
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 14, 2022
If the Suns match the offer sheet, they will be unable to move Ayton until at least January 15 — and they will be unable to move him to Indiana for a year after that date has passed. Additionally, Ayton will have one-year veto power on any trade.
There is a maximum contract offer for Ayton in the marketplace, and it has been delivered by Namakian of Innovate Sports and Duffy of BDA Sports and WME. There was no indication that the Suns thought highly enough of Ayton to make him a max-level offer, as evidenced by their failure to do so. The Suns will forfeit the No. 1 pick in 2018 if they don’t match the draught board.
As a free agent in 2016, Dallas Mavericks signed Harrison Barnes to a four-year, $94.4 million contract, which was matched by Barnes’ former team, the Golden State Warriors, who signed Kevin Durant.
Several sources informed ESPN that Ayton is excited about the prospect of teaming up with talented young guard Tyrese Haliburton and playing a key role in the Pacers’ resurgence.
Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis were traded earlier this offseason and last season, paving the way for an intriguing young backcourt of Haliburton, a developing star, and rookie Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth choice in last month’s NBA draught.
By clearing $4.7 million in cap space, the Pacers could sign Ayton to the maximum offer sheet. According to ESPN’s sources, Indiana is dismissing guard Duane Washington and stretching out the contracts of Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, and Nik Stauskas, who were acquired in the Boston trade for Brogdon.
At 24, Ayton joins a star-studded draught class that includes Luka Doncic (third overall), Jaren Jackson Jr. (fourth), Trae Young (fifth), and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, among others, in being selected with the first pick of the 2018 draught (11th).
As a starter for the Phoenix Suns after being named to the All-Rookie first team in 2019, Ayton has grown into a quality centre who averages 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while anchoring the defence during the team’s journey to the NBA Finals in 2021.
While shooting 63.4 per cent from the field and 74.6 per cent from the foul line, he scored 17.2 points a game.
Game 7 of the Western Conference playoffs between the Mavericks and Phoenix ended Phoenix’s postseason with a crushing defeat, a game in which Ayton sat on the bench and watched from afar.
Monty Williams, the coach of the Phoenix Suns, was asked after the game why things happened and answered, “It’s internal.” After the game, Ayton refused to speak to the media.
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