The Phoenix Suns are coming off arguably their best season in franchise history. Sadly, they couldn't finish the job and beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals.
Deandre Ayton played a huge part in their success not only during the playoffs but throughout the whole season. He stepped up defensively and proved to his doubters that he could be a defensive anchor.
Nonetheless, the Suns are still reportedly reluctant to sign him to a max contract extension, potentially forcing him to test restricted free agency after next season:
"Ayton, a key part of the Suns' run to the 2021 NBA Finals, has no intention of accepting a deal less than the comparable max contracts signed by several of his 2018 NBA draft classmates, including Atlanta's Trae Young, Dallas' Luka Doncic, Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Denver's Michael Porter Jr., sources told ESPN," reported Wojnarowski.
"Ayton, 23, is eligible for a five-year, $172.5 million extension, with escalators that could reach $207 million -- a deal that many executives leaguewide expected would be complete in short order this offseason. But now, with a looming Oct. 18 deadline for rookie extensions, sources said the talks between the Suns and Ayton's representatives have been slowed by ownership's current assertion that Ayton doesn't deserve to be included in that group of players -- and a belief by the 7-footer that his performance, his potential and the marketplace dictate that he does," Woj added.
Ayton believes that he's a max contract kind of player and recently said that he's going to approach this season with "vengeance":
“All that blood and sweat and tears and the sacrifices our team made and you’re trying to say it was a fluke. It’s personal now. I have so much vengeance coming into this league. I’m fed up. That’s just my energy right now," Ayton told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Central.
Truth be told, it's always seemed like Ayton has been underrated. He's often compared to Luka Doncic and Trae Young as he was the first overall pick in that class, but it's not like he hasn't been efficient or impressive.
It seems like Ayton is ready to bet on himself. Hopefully, it'll pay off for him and get the money he deserves.