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#pounditTuesday, October 19, 2021

Deandre Ayton opens up about contract drama with Suns

Deandre Ayton in his Suns uniform

Amid a worrisome contract stalemate with the Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton is offering his first public comments on the matter.

The former No. 1 overall pick spoke with reporters on Tuesday and took a moment to address his contract situation.

“I love Phoenix but I’m really disappointed that we haven’t really gotten a deal done yet,” said Ayton, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I mean, we were two wins away from a championship. I just really want to be respected, to be honest. Be respected like my peers are being respected by their teams and just keep it like that. I’ll just let them handle it in the most professional way possible and just control what I can control.”

The 23-year-old Ayton’s numbers (14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game last season) do not quite pop off the page. But he proved his worth during Phoenix’s Finals run, posting the best playoff net rating on the team (per Basketball Reference) and outplaying almost every center he faced.

Ayton is eligible for a max rookie extension this offseason, which fellow 2018 draftees such as Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Michael Porter Jr. have all already gotten from their respective teams. But the jury is still out on how Ayton would fare independent of the shot creation abilities of teammates Chris Paul and Devin Booker. That probably helps explain why the Suns are still reluctant to give him that max extension.

Photo: Jan 3, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) against the New York Knicks at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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