NBA

Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton signs 4-year maximum contract offer of $133 million with Indiana Pacers, agents say

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

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

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

Sign-and-trade deals are no longer allowed once Ayton signs the offer sheet with Indiana.

So far, the Suns have shown no interest in negotiating a signing and trade with the Pacers, but Phoenix is ​​still expected to match the record $133 million offer sheet once. that she will be signed by Ayton, sources told ESPN.

If the Suns match the offer sheet, they can’t trade Ayton anywhere until at least Jan. 15 — and can’t trade him for Indiana for a year. Ayton will also have veto power over any trade for one year.

Namakian of Innovate Sports and Duffy of BDA Sports and WME had pressed the Suns that 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 a maximum offer to Ayton, suggesting they did not value him as the maximum player. If they don’t match the sheet, the Suns will lose the No. 1 pick of 2018 without compensation.

The biggest offer sheet signed by a team that was unmatched was when Harrison Barnes was signed by the Dallas Mavericks for four years and $94.4 million in 2016, the same summer the former team de Barnes, the Golden State Warriors, signed Kevin Durant as a free agent.

Ayton was excited about the possibility of linking up with talented young guard Tyrese Haliburton and becoming a key piece in the Pacers’ rebuild, sources told ESPN.

Indiana traded Malcolm Brogdon earlier this offseason and Domantas Sabonis last season, ushering in a new era centered around an exciting young backcourt in Haliburton, an emerging star, and rookie Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth overall draft pick of the NBA last month.

The Pacers are expected to clear $4.7 million of cap space to sign Ayton on the maximum offer sheet. To do that, Indiana is waiving guard Duane Washington and waiving and stretching the three players who arrived in the trade from Boston for Brogdon: Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and Nik Stauskas, sources told ESPN.

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

After making a first-team All-Rookie in 2019, Ayton has emerged as a quality starting center, averaging 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while helping anchor the Phoenix defense during its run to the 2021 NBA Finals – the first time the franchise has reached the league 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 a stellar regular season, ending with the league’s best record, Phoenix’s playoffs ended in a blowout loss to the Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals – a game Ayton won. spent most of the second half watching from the bench.

When asked after the game why it 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.

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