Deandre Ayton’s Future: Departure from Phoenix Suns in Free Agency?

The Uncertain Future of Deandre Ayton with the Phoenix Suns

In a surprising turn of events, the Phoenix Suns have signaled their reluctance to offer Deandre Ayton, the former #1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, a max contract extension. Speculation has arisen that Ayton might explore his options in free agency, with potential suitors like the Charlotte Hornets or Portland Trail Blazers making offers if the Suns fail to match. Additionally, a sign-and-trade deal with another team, such as the Indiana Pacers, remains a possibility.

Ayton’s Impact on the Phoenix Suns

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his contract situation, Deandre Ayton played a crucial role in the Phoenix Suns’ successful season, which saw them clinch the best record in the NBA and secure the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Ayton’s contributions were significant, as he averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in 58 appearances. Impressively, he shot a career-best 63.4% from the field, earning him a PER rating of 21.99, placing him at #16 in the league.

However, the Suns’ journey to the 2021 NBA Finals ended in disappointment as they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in a six-game series. Despite their aspirations for a championship, they were unexpectedly eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

Ayton’s Performance and Potential Departure

Over his four seasons with the Suns, Ayton has maintained consistent production, averaging 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.0 blocked shots per game. His efficiency as a shooter has been notable, boasting a field goal percentage of 59.9%. As Ayton approaches his 24th birthday this summer, his future in Phoenix starts to look uncertain, despite his early enthusiasm about joining the Suns after playing college basketball at Arizona.

Game 7 Bench Incident Raises Concerns

Ayton’s performance during the playoffs faced mixed fortunes. In the first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans, he demonstrated his prowess with an impressive average of 20.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. Shooting a remarkable 70.3% from the field in five out of six games showcased his abilities. However, his numbers saw a decline during the Western Conference semifinals against the Mavericks, where he averaged 15.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game but struggled with his shooting percentages.

In a pivotal Game 7 against Dallas, Ayton experienced a shocking benching in the second half due to an undisclosed “internal matter” according to head coach Monty Williams. This decision fueled speculation that it may have been Ayton’s final game as a member of the Suns. Reports suggested that Ayton’s focus on the court had been an ongoing concern, with instances of losing concentration identified over recent seasons.

Concerns about Ayton’s Off-Court Distractions

Despite his youth, Ayton’s affinity for video games has been a source of worry for the team. The young center’s dedication to gaming has often led him to prioritize late-night gaming sessions over essential rest and recovery. Such habits have raised questions about his commitment to his profession and his ability to maintain a high level of performance.

The Suns’ Decision and Ayton’s Disappointment

The Phoenix Suns’ decision not to offer Ayton a contract extension before the final year of his rookie contract surprised many. Despite their impressive journey to the 2021 NBA Finals, where they fell short against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Suns chose not to lock up their promising big man. Ayton’s agent expressed disappointment at the lack of a max contract offer, emphasizing Ayton’s consistent improvement and contributions throughout the season. The agent felt that Ayton deserved recognition and expressed confidence in finding alternative opportunities in the league.

Restricted Free Agency and Uncertain Prospects

Ayton now moves towards restricted free agency, where he can explore potential offers from other teams. However, the Suns retain the right to match any offer sheet he signs with another team, meaning they could secure his services for the foreseeable future. The ultimate decision will depend on the offers presented by teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, or Indiana Pacers. However, the Suns’ limited cap space poses a challenge in offering Ayton a lucrative max contract.


Deandre Ayton’s future with the Phoenix Suns hangs in the balance as the team hesitates to offer him a max contract extension. Despite being an integral part of the Suns’ success and their impressive journey to the NBA Finals, concerns surrounding Ayton’s focus on and off the court have cast doubt on his long-term prospects in Phoenix. As Ayton explores his options in restricted free agency, fans and NBA enthusiasts eagerly await the resolution of this captivating saga.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will the Phoenix Suns match any offer for Deandre Ayton?

The Suns have the power to match any offer sheet Ayton signs with another team, giving them the opportunity to retain his services. However, their decision will depend on various factors, including Ayton’s market value and their financial flexibility.

2. Which teams are potential destinations for Deandre Ayton?

Rumors have suggested that the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, or Indiana Pacers could present offers to Ayton. However, the final outcome remains uncertain until an agreement is reached.

3. What impact does Ayton’s off-court distractions have on his future?

Concerns surrounding Ayton’s dedication to video gaming and its potential effects on his performance have raised questions about his long-term prospects. Teams may be hesitant to invest significant resources in a player whose commitment and focus may be compromised.

4. How does Ayton’s benching in Game 7 affect his relationship with the Suns?

The benching in Game 7, along with the lack of transparency regarding the reasons behind it, has strained Ayton’s relationship with the Suns. It remains unclear how this incident will factor into the team’s decision regarding his future with the franchise.

5. What are the Suns’ chances of keeping Ayton on a max contract?

Given the Suns’ limited cap space and their hesitance to offer Ayton a max contract in the past, their ability to retain him on such a deal may prove challenging. However, the final determination will depend on negotiations between the team and Ayton’s representatives, as well as the market demand for his services.

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