Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton signing 4-year, $133M maximum contract offer sheet with Indiana Pacers, agents say

Phoenix Suns restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton has signed a four-year contract offer with the Indiana Pacers for a maximum of $133 million, his agents Bill Duffy and Nima Namakian told ESPN Thursday.

The Suns have two days to match the biggest offer hand in NBA history and keep Ayton — or let him go to the Pacers for nothing.

Ayton’s offer list tops the four-year, $107 million deal Otto Porter Jr. signed with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017 — a deal the Washington Wizards ultimately achieved.

Sign-and-trade deals will no longer be permitted once Ayton has signed the offer sheet with Indiana.

So far, the Suns have shown no interest in negotiating a sign-and-trade with the Pacers, but the expectation remains that Phoenix will hit the record $133 million bid sheet once it’s signed by Ayton, sources told ESPN.

If the Suns match the bid arc, they won’t be able to trade Ayton anywhere until at least January 15 — and won’t be able to trade him to Indiana for a year. Ayton will also have veto power on any trade for a year.

Innovate Sports’ Namakian and BDA Sports and WME’s Duffy had insisted to the Suns they could find a maximum contract offer for Ayton in the market and they are now delivering it with the offer sheet. The Suns had never made Ayton a max offer, suggesting they didn’t value him as a max player. If they don’t match the hand, the Suns lose the No. 1 pick of 2018 with no compensation.

The biggest offer sheet signed by a mismatched team was when Harrison Barnes was signed by the Dallas Mavericks to a four-year, $94.4 million deal in 2016, that same summer, as Barnes’ former team , the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant signed a free agent.

Ayton was excited at the opportunity to team up with talented young guard Tyrese Haliburton and become a centerpiece of the Pacers’ rebuild, sources told ESPN.

Trading Malcolm Brogdon earlier this offseason and Domantas Sabonis last season, Indiana transitioned into a new era centered around an exciting young backcourt from Haliburton, a rising star, and rookie Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth pick in the NBA draft last year month, turned.

The Pacers would have to vacate $4.7 million in cap space to sign Ayton for the maximum offer hand. To do so, Indiana is waiving guard Duane Washington and waiving and stretching the three players who arrived in the Boston trade for Brogdon: Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and Nik Stauskas, sources told ESPN.

Ayton, who turns 24 next week, was drafted from Arizona with the first pick in the 2018 draft, part of a star-studded drafting class that also includes Luka Doncic (third), Jaren Jackson Jr. (fourth), Trae Young (fifth) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th).

After being named an All-Rookie First Team in 2019, Ayton has developed into a quality starting center, averaging 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and has helped bolster Phoenix’s defense on their way to the 2021 NBA Finals anchor — the first time the franchise has reached the league’s championship round since Charles Barkley led the Suns there in 1993.

He averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds last season, shooting 63.4% from the field and 74.6% from the foul line.

After an outstanding regular season that ended with the best record in the league, Phoenix’s postseason ended in a crushing loss to the Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals — a game that Ayton spent most of the second half trying to watching from the bench.

When asked after the game why that happened, Suns coach Monty Williams said, “It’s internal.” Ayton, meanwhile, declined to speak to reporters after the game.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks contributed to this report.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34242899/phoenix-suns-deandre-ayton-signing-4-year-131m-maximum-contract-offer-sheet-indiana-pacers-agents-say Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton signing 4-year, $133M maximum contract offer sheet with Indiana Pacers, agents say

Emma Bowman

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