Welcome to Deandre Ayton Week!
While there's no guarantee we get a definitive outcome to Ayton's future this week, its very likely we at least finally get to see the Suns top their hand.
On Thursday at 3 PM AZ time, NBA teams are allowed to negotiate with free agents. Then on July 6th, the moratorium on player movement ends and all free agent deals can become official and trades can begin. The Suns will have 48 hours from July 6th to match any offer sheet officially signed by Deandre Ayton. This is the week we find out however which teams are really interested in Ayton and where the Suns fit in.
So with that in mind, let's rank the three outcomes from least likely to most likely:
Deandre Ayton signs max contract offer with the Detroit Pistons and the Suns decline to match.
- The Suns are not letting Ayton walk for absolutely nothing. This would be an immediately fireable offense for everyone in the Suns front office. The only way this realistically happens is if Ayton and his agent communicate to the Suns they will not cooperate on any sign and trade, that they plan on signing with the Pistons and the Suns would either have to match or let him walk. For guidance on what they'd do, please check the first sentence.
Deandre Ayton re-signs with the Suns for a max contract without an offer sheet from another team.
- If this was going to happen, it would've happened last fall. If this was going to happen, we wouldn't be hearing so much about the schism that reportedly exists between DA and the Suns. This is almost certainly not happening.
Deandre Ayton signs a max contract offer with a team like the Pistons and the Suns match the max contract offer.
- If a team is under the cap and has the requisite cap space, they can sign Ayton outright to an offer sheet without needing a sign and trade. Currently, that team would be the Pistons but its possible other teams maneuver to have that ability as well. In any event, if a team has the space to outright offer the max, then the Suns would match and at least feel good they didn't need the full five year max that Phoenix is able to offer.
Deandre Ayton and the Suns agree on a sign and trade to send the big man to a different team.
- This remains the most likely outcome. The Suns aren't dealing from a position of strength; in fact they undercut their own leverage by not offering him the max last fall or not dealing him last summer but its still the most likely. The return will be for less than what his true value would be and the market will likely be smaller than most people think because paying a center approximately $30 million dollars a year is not a winning strategy in the current NBA. You can actually bet on Ayton's next team on the DraftKings Sportsbook App. I currently placed small bets on San Antonio, Indiana and Brooklyn.