As the Phoenix Suns consider their relationship with star big man Deandre Ayton, the Detroit Pistons are eagerly awaiting their chance to sign the young stud.
In fact, according to Pistons beat writer James Edwards III, Detroit is expected to "heavily" pursue Ayton when he becomes a restricted free agent next month.
Ayton's future in Phoenix has long been shrouded in doubt. As the season progressed, he expressed major disappointment about the state of contract negotiations with the team. Reports have said that Ayton wants the max, and the Suns have been unwilling to comply so far.
The result has been a cold war of sorts, and it could end with Ayton saying goodbye to the Suns for good.
“We’re disappointed. We wanted a max contract,” Ayton's agent, Bill Duffy, said. “He went out and was a solider the whole year, played well, improved his statistics. So, we’re proud of him. A lot of guys handle things differently, but he was very mature about it. Things will work out for Deandre. He’s a valuable player. There’s other teams in the league as well. He’s a restricted free agent, so we’ll see how this process unfolds.”
In some ways, restricted free agency is almost tougher to predict than unrestricted. While any team can offer Ayton a deal, the Suns can match any offer for Deandre and can ultimately have him back if they really want.
The question is, how much do the Pistons value Ayton, and can they make an offer that the Suns would be unwilling to match?
It will not be easy summer for Ayton or the Suns, but we will find out before too long how much their relationship has deteriorated over the past few months.
In Detroit, the 6'11" center could thrive alongside Cade Cunningham. Such a duo would certainly be a treat for the fans.