Deandre Ayton has agreed to has agreed to a historic offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, and the deal puts the Phoenix Suns between a rock and a hard place.
The restricted free agent center reportedly agreed to a four-year, $133 million maximum contract offer sheet Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It is the largest offer sheet in NBA history, surpassing the four-year, $107 million deal signed by Otto Porter Jr. with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017 — a deal the Washington Wizards matched.
The Suns will have 48 hours to match the offer sheet, but Phoenix is reportedly seeking sign-and-trade options with the Pacers. But if the Suns do match the offer sheet and retain Ayton, the center will have veto power on trades for a full year.
For the Pacers, the move is part of their full re-imaging of their team after trading Domantas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings for potential star Tyrese Haliburton during the season while also sending Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics. Wojnarowski noted the Pacers will waive Duane Washington and waive and stretch the players they received from the Brogdon trade to add more cap space to sign Ayton to a max contract.
For the Suns, this has all but shut down a potential move to trade for Kevin Durant. The Suns face a dilemma of letting their young center leave for nothing or paying a large price for a player who has shown good but not great results through his first four years in the league.
The rookie-scale extension was a barrier to getting a trade done with the Brooklyn Nets right away, and it appears Durant will have to cross off the Suns from his reported wish list of teams, as it is unlikely the Nets will want to make a deal with the Suns that doesn’t include Ayton.
Durant made his reported trade request on June 30, but NBA teams are putting their main focus on their current rosters and Summer League, which makes a deal unlikely to happen right away, especially with the large asking price the Nets are asking for.
The prospects don’t look favorable for teams like the Celtics as it appears Durant will likely remain in the Eastern Conference with a big Western Conference team likely out of the running in trade discussions.