What the future holds for the Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton
NBA free agency begins at 3pm PT Thursday and speculation has been swirling around Phoenix Suns big man Deandre Ayton.
- Ayton has one year left on his contract and is a restricted free agent, meaning Phoenix has the option of matching any offer another team makes him.
- The Suns tendered a $16.4 million qualifying offer (which was a formality)to Ayton, Spotrac's Kevin Smith reported.
The big picture: ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said the Suns have been reluctant to give Ayton a max contract but there are other teams willing to do so.
- The Suns are likely to send Ayton to another team in a sign-and-trade deal, Woj said Wednesday.
- Phoenix can offer Ayton as much as $177 million over five years, while other teams can only give him a max contract of $131.1 million over four years.
What's next: If the Suns don't give Ayton a max deal, there are a number of possible destinations around the league for him.
- Detroit had widely been considered the likeliest landing spot, but that seems less likely now that the Pistons have acquired center Nerlens Noel from the New York Knicks.
- Air Alamo reported that the San Antonio Spurs are considering a possible sign-and-trade for Ayton that would likely send center Jakob Poeltl to Phoenix, though that may be off the table following Wednesday's trade of Dejounte Murray.
- Other rumored partners for an Ayton sign-and-trade include the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors.
Meanwhile: The Suns are also reportedly considering trading forward Jae Crowder and have called other teams to inquire about their interest.
Flashback: Phoenix could've re-signed Ayton last year but balked at giving him a max contract.
- His season ended on a sour note for Ayton when he and head coach Monty Williams argued over Williams' decision to pull him after just 17 minutes of play during the Suns' Game 7 meltdown against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Semifinals.
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