News broke earlier this week that the Phoenix Suns and former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton have reached somewhat of an impasse in contract negotiations, casting doubt on the big man’s long-term future with the franchise.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed in a report Tuesday that the disconnect comes from the Suns’ reluctance to offer Ayton a maximum rookie contract extension. The 23-year-old center, fresh off of the best season of his NBA career, is unwilling to agree to any deal less than the max that fellow 2018 draft members Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr. have already signed with their respective teams.
Time for Ayton and the Suns to come to an agreement is quickly ticking away with the 2021-22 regular season less than two weeks out. However, Phoenix’s point guard Chris Paul isn’t all that concerned about what’s going on behind the scenes.
Paul doesn’t seem worried about the ongoing negotiations between the Suns and Ayton, calling the current situation “the business of the game.” The 36-year-old is fully focused on helping prepare his team for the upcoming year and hopes that everything else will sort itself out.
“I’m not concerned, that’s the business of the game,” Paul said to Stephen A. Smith on First Take Wednesday. “Those contract talks happen as players, agents, all that stuff. We got Mikal Bridges, another guy who’s a big part of our team (eligible for an extension), so hopefully that stuff will take care of itself, so we can get back to playing and doing what we do.”
Paul, who signed a hefty deal with the Suns himself this offseason, has developed quite the connection with Ayton during their brief time together in Phoenix. The 16-year veteran point guard been a consistent advocate of the 23-year-old and will surely be hoping that the franchise’s front office brings him back on a new deal.
Ayton averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks last year in his most impressive season as a pro. He stepped up for the Suns a major way during their miraculous run to the NBA Finals and seems to be coming into his own as a former No. 1 overall pick.
However, Phoenix is headed toward a difficult place financially with Paul, Ayton, Bridges and star shooting guard Devin Booker all shaping up to be on expensive contracts. Team owner Robert Sarver hasn’t paid the luxury tax in over a decade and may have to if the Suns hope to hold onto all of their key contributors.
Phoenix has until Oct. 18 to agree to an extension with Ayton. If the two parties can’t come to some sort of conclusion, the 23-year-old will become a restricted free agent next summer.