The free agency speculation of Phoenix Suns‘ big man Deandre Ayton has finally come to a head, with the 23-year-old reportedly signing an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal is a four-year, $133 million maximum contract, the largest offer sheet in NBA history. The Suns now have 48 hours to match or will lose the 2018 number one draft pick for no compensation.
Losing Ayton with no value in return would be a crucial blow to the Phoenix Suns.
Potential destinations had dwindled for Ayton since free agency opened, with the possibility of sign-and-trade scenarios a hot topic in NBA circles. This included his potential involvement in a blockbuster deal that would see Brooklyn Nets’ star Kevin Durant land in Phoenix.
But Indiana’s interest had grown in recent days, this despite having a starting center, Myles Turner, already on the roster.
As stated by Wojnarowski, league rules indicate that Ayton would return to the Suns for at least the first half of next season, should they match the offer.
"So far, the Suns haven’t shown an interest in negotiating a sign-and-trade with the Pacers, but the expectation remains that Phoenix will match the record $133 million offer sheet once it’s signed by Ayton, sources told ESPN.“If the Suns do match the offer sheet, they can’t trade Ayton anywhere until at least Jan. 15 — and can’t trade him to Indiana for a year. Ayton will also have veto power on any trade for a year”."
Ayton appeared to have a falling out with the organization as the Suns season fell in calamitus fashion. However, he remains one of the most talented and productive young players in the league, one whose departure would leave a massive hole in Phoenix’s starting lineup.
He has averaged 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds in 236 regular season games with the Suns to date.