The Suns bring Ayton back after matching four-year offer slip from the Pacers

The Phoenix Suns reportedly matched the Indiana Pacers’ four-year, $ 133-million offer sheet given to Deandre Ayton, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As the Suns match the NBA record offer schedule, the team has retained the services Ayton and cannot switch centers until January 15, and not without his consent for an entire year, Wojnarowski adds.

The move means the Suns – at least for now – retain their core of Ayton and the All-Star backfield of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. The trio pushed Phoenix to the NBA Finals in 2021 and a franchise record of 64 wins in the most recent regular season.

Typically with young players of Ayton’s stature, teams do not hesitate to award lucrative contracts according to their rookie deals, taking into account the development of a prospect in the organization, even though the player has not yet delivered results on the field that fully justify the contract price tag.

In this case, however, Phoenix chose to be patient and see how Ayton’s value was perceived in the open market, and did not offer the Arizona product a maximum contract during the opening days of free agency. But now, after two weeks of stagnation, the Pacers forced the Sun’s hand by handing out the largest bid sheet in league history, giving the Grand Canyon State team a sort of ultimatum.

And in the end, the Suns chose to keep the 6-foot-11 big man.

Phoenix has been linked with interest in signing Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant during the high season, but Ayton cannot be used as bait due to the new deal.

The most lucrative offer form ever accepted and which was not matched came in 2016, when the Dallas Mavericks signed Harrison Barnes to a four-year, $ 94.4 million offer, and the Golden State Warriors chose to let Barnes go. Instead, later that summer, the Warriors signed Durant as a free agent.

Ayton, who turns 24 in late July, was the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and has since evolved into a powerful starting center on a struggling Suns team.

He joined the all-new first team in 2019, and has since had an average of 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds as the focal point of Phoenix ‘defense during the run-up to the NBA Finals.

– With files from the Associated Press

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