In a shocking move, the Phoenix Suns have chosen to match the offer star center Deandre Ayton received from the Indiana Pacers earlier this week, meaning Ayton will remain with the team for one more season.
Ayton signed the Pacers offer, worth $133 million over four years, and was immediately matched by the Suns. It was a smart move for the Suns; Ayton has been a centerpiece of the team's success over the past two seasons, which saw Phoenix reach the NBA Finals in 2021 and command the top seed in the West entering the postseason in 2022. The Suns would have lost a young and promising talent for nothing in return.
As part of the deal, the Suns cannot trade Ayton until January 15, 2023, and he'll have full veto power on any proposed deal for one year.
The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft has been instrumental to Phoenix’s success in recent years. Last season, Ayton averaged 17.2 and 10.2 rebounds per outing, adding 1.4 assists to boost one of the league’s most dynamic offenses.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty ImagesSigning with the Pacers forced the Suns to squander any chance they had to land Kevin Durant this offseason, as he requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets on July 1.
This move from the Suns come after months of rumored issues between Ayton and head coach Monty Williams. In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, Williams chose to sub Ayton out early in the 3rd quarter, cutting Ayton’s playing time at a mere 17 minutes. Ayton finished with five points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in the blowout loss.
It was also reported in May by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer that there was "Consistent word, dating back to the trade deadline, from league sources with knowledge of the situation that Ayton is not particularly a favorite of Phoenix's head coach. Williams has purportedly griped about Ayton's waning focus, which some people contacted by B/R said has often been reflected by the ebbs of his playing time."
Hopefully for Suns fans, Ayton and Williams can bury the hatchet before season starts later this year.