Deandre Ayton has been involved in a back and forth with the Phoenix Suns' management since the 2020/21 NBA season. He and the team have been unable to sign a contract extension, even after proving his value by helping the franchise reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1994.
It seems like the Suns are focused on different targets now, as Ayton has become a restricted free agent, waiting to see what the Suns and the market have to offer to him. The Indiana Pacers were mentioned as a strong candidate to acquire his services and have taken a big step to land the talented big man.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Ayton has agreed to a four-year, $133 million offer sheet, which is the largest in NBA history.
Phoenix Suns restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton is signing a four-year, $133 million maximum contract offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, his agents Bill Duffy and Nima Namakian told ESPN on Thursday.
The Suns have two days to match the largest in NBA history and keep Ayton -- or let him go to the Pacers for nothing in return.
Ayton's offer sheet surpasses the four-year, $107 million deal signed by Otto Porter Jr. with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017 -- a deal the Washington Wizards ultimately matched.
Sign-and-trade deals are longer allowed once Ayton signs the offer sheet with Indiana. 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.
The Indiana Pacers are trying to make some moves to become a top team in the East in the future. They are now ready to start a new process with young players like Tyrese Haliburton and recently drafted Bennedict Mathurin. They could make some noise in the future. With the addition of Ayton, this team could make some trouble in the East, but the Suns still need to make a decision on this.