2022 NBA Playoffs Could Decide Deandre Ayton’s Future with the Suns

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Deandre Ayton, the once top-end pick, may find himself in different colors next year if the playoffs do not go the Phoenix Suns way.

The former Arizona Wildcat is up for a qualifying offer this summer, which is $7 million more than this current deal and comes with a massive cap hit. Should Ayton not shine and the Suns fall, this could be the last season Ayton spends in the Valley.

Right now, Ayton averages a double-double with 16.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He has come out with a vengeance—wanting that next deal. The question is whether or not the Suns can afford it or want to extend the offer being a qualifying one.

Ayton no doubt would want a max deal based on his age and production. Though, there are questions about if that’s a good idea for the Suns or not. That qualifying offer will come in at $16.4 million, and apply a $31 million cap hit.

Ayton’s health remains one of the larger questions surrounding him. Would the Suns get enough time out of him and have him stay healthy enough that the max deal would pay off? Ayton has never played more than 71 games since his rookie year, and has played just 29 of 45 games this season.

Should the Suns not go deep into the playoffs and Ayton fall off his great pace, I would expect them to extend an offer, but not a full one.

However, if the Suns make it to the NBA Finals again and slightly adjust some other contracts, I think they give him the max deal he is looking for. From there on out, they continue building around Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Ayton.

With little draft capital, keeping Booker and Ayton around might be the only way for the Suns to stay competitive four years from now.

Without question, Ayton remains a solid player, but as of this moment for the 2022-23 season, the Suns are $54 million past their budget. So not only are they over the cap, but they only have nine players signed for that amount of money.

While the Phoenix front office is already having discussions about the trade deadline, contract adjustments, and what to do with players such as Ayton, it is hard to imagine them letting a player of Ayton’s caliber walk.

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However, it would not be the first time we have seen a player at an elite level not get their desired deal. If Phoenix extends the qualifying offer, the rest of the league will scramble to beat it and it would be just a formality for compensation.