NBA

Suns decide to match Pacers offer, locking in Deandre Ayton on four-year $133million extension

By Sports Desk July 14, 2022

The Phoenix Suns have immediately matched the four-year, $133million offer sheet that the Indiana Pacers presented center Deandre Ayton in restricted free agency.

With Ayton being a restricted free agent, it meant the Suns would reserve the right to match any offer Ayton agreed to with another team, and it appears it was their plan all along to test if the market would actually view the former number one draft pick as a max contract player.

Ayton's representatives believed all along that they would be able to get a max offer sheet in restricted free agency, and they were proven right as the Suns tried to call their bluff. The Pacers' offer was the largest in the history of restricted free agency negotiations, trumping Otto Porter Jr's four-year, $107m deal in 2017.

It is unknown if the Suns could have signed him for a cheaper price, as ESPN's report claims the franchise made no offer to Ayton in the interim, likely in the hope that the limited amount of teams with cap space would mean they could match a more palatable offer sheet.

The Suns center is one of just nine players to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds since he entered the league four seasons ago, while shooting just a hair under 60 per cent from the field for his career.

He will make $30m in the upcoming season, slightly escalating each year to eventually reach $35m in 2025-26.

Since the Suns opted to play out the process through restricted free agency, it now means Ayton will have significantly more control of any potential trades he could be involved in for the next year.

He is unable to be traded before January 15, and even after that he will have veto powers until the end of the season. Due to the Pacers presenting an offer sheet, they will be unable to trade for Ayton for at least one year.

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