The Indiana Pacers were hoping to make a big splash when they signed Deandre Ayton to a NBA-record $133 million offer sheet yesterday. However, their excitement didn’t last long.
Phoenix matched the offer sheet in three minutes — literally. And yes, that’s another NBA record for the fastest match of an offer sheet for a restricted free agent.
The Suns never attempted to ink Ayton, who turns 24 next week, to a max contract before he found one with the Pacers. The 6-foot-11 center has been in Phoenix for four seasons since the franchise chose him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
As a rookie, he started 70 of 71 games and averaged 16.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots per game. Ayton started all 58 regular-season games he appeared in this past year, averaging 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 0.7 BPG. He made a career-best 63.4 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Phoenix was the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference during the 2021-22 playoffs, but it was ousted in the West semifinals by Dallas in seven games. In 13 postseason games, Ayton averaged 17.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 0.8 BPG.
An incident on the bench with Phoenix head coach Monte Williams in Game 7 against the Mavericks led to Williams keeping Ayton out of the game for the entire second half of the embarrassing blowout loss. When asked about it at the postgame presser, Williams only said, “It’s internal.”
Per NBA rules, Ayton can’t be traded without his consent for at least one year. Even if he’s good with it, Phoenix can’t deal him until Jan. 15.
The Suns are believed to be a player in trade talks with Kevin Durant, who has requested to be dealt out of Brooklyn with four years remaining on his contract. However, Ayton can no longer be a part of a potential trade until several months into the upcoming regular season.
DraftKings has Phoenix listed at +650 odds to win next year’s NBA title. The Suns have the fourth-shortest odds behind Boston (+550), the Los Angeles Clippers (+600) and Golden St. (+600).