Where Will Deandre Ayton be In 2022

The Deandre Ayton deal has to be one of the hardest decisions that the Phoenix Suns have had to make in years. With the current success of bringing in Chris Paul, who now makes 30 million a year over the next three years, and Devin Booker will make 33 million next year and 36 the year after, and then will likely play on the supermax contract which will be near 50 million a year can the Suns even afford to pay him?  Deandre Ayton will be looking for a max contract which will be around 35 million per year. 

Ayton is looking at the others drafted in his class, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Jaren Jackson, and Mo Bamba all have already been extended.  If Ayton gets a max contract and it is the 35 million next year the big 3 will cost the Suns 98 million next year alone.  The Cap is projected to be 122 million and a Luxury tax of 149 million.  Knowing the cheap owner Robert Sarver the less Luxury tax the better.  Now Mikal Bridges next year makes 20 million and Jae Crowder makes 10 million along with Shamet making 9.5 million.  40 million added to the 98 million is already 138 million of the possible 149 million and that is only for 6 players and Cam Johnson also will need to be extended in 2 years. It’s a financial mess!

Money as tight as it is, let’s call that strike one, strike two is his performance. 

While he has had many great games this season, his last game he got backed down in the paint by Luka who is much smaller, then got benched for “internal reasons”.  In the previous finals when Paul was clearly hurt, Ayton wasn’t able to step up and win that series either losing 4 in a row. 

While Suns fans want him more aggressive, he is an emotional player and will definitely, definitely remember how he was treated and hold it against the organization.  Ayton was the first pick of the 2018 draft and many teams would be glad to see him there, but I don’t think that team will be the Suns.

Strike three for Deandre Ayton is worth more to other teams than his own. 

Just look at Ayton’s stature, the Suns can convince any team that he has unlimited potential, which is true but he doesn’t seem to believe that.  As the first pick in the draft many teams want to give him a shot, but the Suns seem fed up with his lack of aggressiveness.  They called him part of the big three but he is the weakest link of the three.  The best move is to sign and trade Ayton.  Even if you give Ayton the money he feels he has earned, we have seen multiple players accept the money and then force themselves out 2 or 3 years later.  I see this exact situation happening with Ayton, he is already mentally hurt and the Suns have appeared to hurt his feelings more and it’s more than likely gone far.  With a sign and trade at least you will get a player in return and new hope. 

Just because I want to raise hopes for this scenario Damian Lillard has said he would like to play with Chris Paul, perhaps hinting to Portland this is a team I am willing to be traded to.  To make the trade work they could trade Ayton and Saric for Lillard, as Saric would be a contract dump after next year for them and Ayton would be a Chauncey Billups re-build dream. 

There are rumors the Suns almost traded Ayton for Sabonis before the trade deadline, maybe this is something they will re-look at.  Sabonis had a career year.  All this being said, the next move will be giving Ayton whatever money he wants because the Suns will not let him walk without anything in return.  I don’t foresee him being a Sun in 2023 and it’s hard for me to see him in 2022 in uniform. He is going to be traded to a rebuilding team and needs to get rid of an older superstar.  The Suns will have better days ahead with trading for Kat, or Lillard, or even a Duncan Robinson from Miami and playing small ball.

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