The 2018 Draft class has proven to be exceptionally talented. With names like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Michael Porter Jr., and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all having broken out as rising stars, they are now juggling big expectations -- and have the contracts to show it.
But for Deandre Ayton, who was drafted first that year, he hasn't necessarily been rewarded the same as his peers, despite leading the Suns further than any of them did.
Unfortunately, the Suns are reluctant to offer Ayton the max deal he seeks, and it's making for a bit of an awkward situation.
“I love Phoenix, but I’m really disappointed we haven’t really gotten a deal done yet,” Ayton said after Tuesday’s training camp in Phoenix. “We were two wins away from winning a championship and I just really want to be respected, to be honest. To be respected like my peers are being respected by their teams. I’ll just let them handle it in the most professional way possible and just control what I can control."
For now, Ayton is going to keep his head down and continue to try and prove he's worthy of making big money.
“The relationships I have on this team will never change regardless of whatever the outcome is,” Ayton stated. “At the same time, still got to come in and work. There’s a job to be done and it’s to win games. The team we have, we still a goal and task at hand that will never change.”
Ayton, 23, was crucial for Phoenix during their Finals run last season. As the third option and main presence under the rim, he averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game on 62% shooting.
This upcoming campaign, with more experience under his belt, he's expected to play an even larger role. We'll see if he's up for the task, and how Phoenix's hesitations play into his long-term future with the franchise.