Following a terrific 2020/21 NBA season where the Phoenix Suns made it to the NBA Finals carried by Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, plenty of people believed the big man would get the bag before the start of the new season.
Unfortunately, none of that happened, and Ayton will have to prove his worth this season to earn that max deal with the Suns or any other team in the league. Even though he's not part of the elite of the league, Deandre is one of the best centers in the association. One would've imagined he'd get that extension after improving his level last season.
The deadline to extend his rookie contract struck yesterday, with the Suns refusing to offer him the max deal. This decision made Ayton the second No. 1 overall pick to not get his rookie contract extended since 2008. The other one? Anthony Bennett, one of the biggest busts in recent history.
The 2013 Cleveland Cavaliers pick was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves alongside Andrew Wiggins in the move that sent Kevin Love to the Cavaliers in 2014. He never lived up to the expectations, becoming one of the worst No. 1 overall picks of all time.
Contrary to Bennett, Ayton has improved his game season after season. Yet, it hasn't been enough for the Suns to make the five-year offer he expected. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the Bahamian center wanted to get a "Trae Young max" of five years and $172.6 million.
"That's what his expectation was," Windhorst added, via Bleacher Report. "The Suns were not willing to give him a five-year contract."
While the rest of the 2018 Draft Class signed big extensions this offseason, the first overall pick of that year couldn't make it and now will have to prove his worth. Players like Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr. all inked new deals, but not the first name called that night.
Well, this situation will be awkward in Phoenix, but Ayton can use it as fuel to keep getting better, trying to help his team play in the Finals again and see if he can get a new contract next offseason.