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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

Deandre Ayton unhappy with Suns after failed contract talks

Deandre Ayton in his Suns uniform

Deandre Ayton’s long-term future with the Phoenix Suns is unclear for multiple reasons after contract talks stopped Monday.

Ayton and the Suns halted talks on Monday after failing to agree to a contract extension. Monday marks the deadline for the 2018 draft class to sign long-term extensions, and the failure to get Ayton signed means he will be eligible for restricted free agency next summer.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ayton is notably unhappy with how negotiations have gone with the Suns. The center had been adamant about asking for a full five-year max contract worth $172.5 million, but Phoenix was never willing to make that offer. The Suns briefly raised the contract of a shorter three- or four-year max deal, but never formally offered it. The organization has been consistent in the belief that it does not view Ayton as a max player.

Ayton is said to be unhappy with the franchise over this valuation. There is some fear that his relationship with coach Monty Williams could even suffer, as the center’s maturity will be tested playing out a contract year for a franchise he’s currently displeased with.

Ayton’s case can be bolstered by the fact that the Suns’ stance is viewed with surprise around the rest of the league. That also indicates Ayton should have a robust market next summer, and Phoenix may face a real battle to keep him.

The former No. 1 pick has made clear that respect is a major factor for him. The fact that the organization doesn’t view him as a max player can definitely be taken as a sign of disrespect. That’s even more true after Ayton averaged 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds en route to the NBA Finals in last year’s playoffs.

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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