The Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges just hit a buzzer beater at the negotiation table. Inking a four year, $90 million extension, the Suns and their starting small forward are now locked together for the foreseeable future.
Everyone expected the Suns to reach a deal with Bridges this summer, but as the offseason progressed, doubt began to grow without a deal in place. Until now, that caused owner Robert Sarver to fall under heavy scrutiny.
Sarver has changed a lot in the past decade. His reputation for penny-pinching was hard earned by trading away draft picks that would have eventually become Luol Deng (2004), Rajon Rondo (2007), and Serge Ibaka (2008). All the losing and fan pressure must have convinced him to spend the money needed to build a long-lasting contender.
One of his smartest moves as Suns owner was investing the money needed to renovate the Footprint Center. Renovating the existing arena as opposed to constructing a brand new arena saved the city hundreds of millions of dollars. These cost savings likely convinced the Phoenix City Council to spend $150 million to contribute to the arena renovation. The money saved also allowed Sarver to construct a brand new state-of-the-art practice facility nearby.
Signing Chris Paul to a 4 year, $120 million contract was also a great move. Paul is the main reason why the Suns went from an upstart playoff contender to two wins away from their first NBA Championship.
The Suns still have to make a decision on Ayton. If they hold back on him, he will enter restricted free agency this offseason. TMZ spotted Ayton and Sarver meeting at a valley hotspot to hash out contract terms. I think they will come to an agreement at the eleventh hour.
Sarver has no reason to negotiate with Ayton. He should just give him the max. Squabbling with Ayton over approximately $22.5 million (reportedly the difference in their dollar amounts) over the life of a five year contract is foolish. Joe Johnson walked away in 2005 in part due to a $5 million difference in their negotiations.
But regardless, Suns fans no longer need to worry about Bridges. The extension keeps him wearing the orange and purple, and he deserved it for these three reasons.