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The Phoenix Suns had no choice but to pay DeAndre Ayton in the end, especially after he took an offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers tried to make Ayton a rich man in Indianapolis. Instead, the Suns made sure he stayed put in Phoenix.
Ayton sweated it out for over two weeks while the front officeweighed their options, and reportedly considered dealing the former No. 1 overall pick in their attempt to land Kevin Durant.
Obviously, those pursuits have failed, and Ayton forced Phoenix’s hand. A four-year, $133 million offer sheet was matched by the Suns, who have just voluntarily taken themselves out of the Durant chase.
Suns had no choice but to pay DeAndre Ayton
By matching Ayton’s offer sheet and keeping him in Phoenix, the team is also relinquishing the right to trade him until at least January of 2023. Even then, Ayton essentially owns a no-trade clause for an entire year due to the new four-year max deal.
Believe it or not, signing Ayton was not considered an easy decision from Phoenix’s point of view. FanSided’s Ian Levy outlined the issues between Ayton and the Suns in an article Thursday:
“However, things clearly weren’t right with Ayton in Phoenix, otherwise, the Suns wouldn’t be in this position. Matching the contract would put the Suns in the luxury tax, something they’ve avoided in the past. The team didn’t want to offer him the five-year, $179ish million max contract they could have to avoid this whole situation. An on-court argument between Ayton and head coach Monty Williams during the Suns’ playoff loss to the Mavericks may have been the final breaking point in a relationship that was already fractured.”
As talented as the Suns are right now — the top team in the West in the regular season last year, mind you — they do not have the necessary assets to meet Brooklyn’s demands without Ayton involved. Mikal Bridges is solid, as are a number of other young players on the roster. But it’s Kevin Freaking Durant.
The Nets are demanding the world and rightly so, for now. Assuming those demands don’t go down dramatically, KD will not be a Phoenix Sun anytime soon.