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#pounditWednesday, December 1, 2021

Articles tagged: Deandre Ayton

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

Deandre Ayton gets worrisome news with Suns contract situation

Deandre Ayton in his Suns uniform

Just months after being the starting center for an NBA Finals team, Deandre Ayton is getting some troubling news about his contract situation.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that extension talks between Ayton and the Phoenix Suns have ended without a deal. Wojnarowski adds that Ayton had been expecting a max contract but that Suns owner Robert Sarver failed to offer it.

Monday marked the deadline for the 2018 draft class to receive extensions from their respective teams. Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Denver’s Michael Porter Jr., and Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all came away with max extensions. Ayton’s Suns teammate Mikal Bridges also just got a four-year, $90 million extension from the team (albeit after a lengthy limbo period).

Now that the former No. 1 overall pick Ayton has failed to reach a deal with the Suns, he will become a restricted free agent next offseason. Ayton did recently sound frustrated about his contract negotiations. Now there is the very real possibility that he could leave Phoenix next summer, especially if he feels disrespected that they did not value him as a max-level player.

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

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

Chris Paul reacts to Deandre Ayton contract drama with Suns

Chris Paul Suns

Chris Paul played a major part last season in building up Deandre Ayton’s value. Now he is reacting to the recent turmoil over Ayton’s contract situation with the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns guard Paul appeared this week on ESPN’s “First Take” and gave his thoughts on the current impasse between Ayton and the Suns.

“I’m not concerned,” said Paul, per Karl Batungbacal of the International Business Times. “I’m not concerned. That’s the business side of the game, you know. Those contract talks happen. Players, agents, all of that stuff. Hopefully, that stuff takes care of itself so we can get back to playing and doing what we do.”

After the Suns made it to the NBA Finals last season on the backs of Paul, Ayton, and Devin Booker, contract drama now threatens to derail their long-term outlook. Phoenix is reportedly reluctant to offer Ayton the maximium extension that he is eligible for this offseason. Negotiations between the two sides have thus stalled, as Ayton believes he is a max-level player.

The former No. 1 overall pick Ayton averaged 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds a game last season, which was actually a regression from the previous year. But he proved in the playoffs to be one of the team’s most important players and one of the most impactful seven-footers in the league. Meanwhile, Paul, who is no stranger to contract uncertainty, sounds confident that the two sides will eventually get a deal done.

Report: Deandre Ayton, Suns in contract dispute

Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton is eligible for a maximum rookie contract extension this offseason, and the assumption has been that the Phoenix Suns will eventually give it to him. At the moment, a deal is not looking likely.

The Suns are reluctant to offer Ayton a max extension, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Ayton is eligible for a $172.5 million extension, with escalators that could reach $207 million. The deadline to complete extensions on rookie contracts is Oct. 18.

According to Wojnarowski, Phoenix’s ownership does not believe Ayton is in the same class as some of his peers who were also drafted in 2018. Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr. have all signed max extensions, and Ayton does not intend to take anything less.

Ayton, 23, has improved significantly over the last two years under head coach Monty Williams. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last season. He seemed to take his game to a new level while playing alongside Chris Paul, who signed a four-year, $120 million deal to return to the Suns this offseason.

If Ayton does not sign an extension, he will become a restricted free agent next summer.

Chris Paul admits he clashed with Deandre Ayton at first

Chris Paul Suns

Chris Paul finally made the NBA Finals last season for the first time in his career. His NBA Finals appearance came as a surprise to many for a few reasons. One, he was playing for a team that didn’t even qualify for the playoffs last season. Two, it was his first season with the Phoenix Suns.

In an interview on “No Chill with Gilbert Arenas,” Paul talked about why he chose to play for the Suns. He said the opportunity to play for Monty Williams, who was a coach on the Hornets staff when he played for them, was appealing. So was playing with Devin Booker.

But Paul admitted to Arenas that the road to winning in Phoenix wasn’t so easy. The veteran point guard says he clashed with young center Deandre Ayton at first.

“And then the part is building. It ain’t always pretty. Me and Deandre Ayton was getting into it like he– to start the season,” Paul said (censored by LBS). “Because I’m hard on you. And I ain’t no loser.”

Eventually the Suns really started to pull things together consistently. They took the No. 2 spot in the West, knocked out the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers in the conference finals, and then reached the NBA Finals. They lost to the Bucks for the championship, but their run to the Finals was still stunning to many. Paul seems to have successfully turned around Ayton’s mentality, which was great by the Finals.

Deandre Ayton has odd comment about Suns trailing in NBA Finals

Deandre Ayton

Most players would be quite unhappy to be facing elimination in the NBA Finals, particularly after holding a 2-0 series lead. Deandre Ayton apparently isn’t one of them.

The Phoenix Suns center said after Saturday’s Game 5 loss that he liked that the team was now the underdog against the Milwaukee Bucks, adding that it’s “more fun” to be the desperate team.

“I like it. It’s fun; the tables are turned now,” Ayton said, via Mark Medina of USA Today. “Now we’re the desperate team. We had our chances of being up and trying to finish the job, now we’re in the same position that they were in. They’re up, and now we got to go get it. That’s why it’s a little bit more fun.”

It’s anyone’s guess whether Ayton is trying to talk himself into that mindset or he’s just enjoying the pressure. The Suns have battled and overcome adversity all season, and maybe that attitude has something to do with it. Still, it’s a safe bet that even if Ayton likes this spot, he’d much rather be up in the series, or have it clinched already.

Ayton scored 22 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in Game 1, his best performance of the Finals so far. He might have to be that good again for the Suns to win in Milwaukee and force Game 7. He certainly won’t want to end up on the wrong end of one of the biggest plays of the series again either.

Steve Kerr wants James Wiseman to emulate this breakout star

James Wiseman

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been paying close attention to the NBA Finals. Part of the reason is that he wants one of his young players to be paying attention, too.

In an appearance on 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto & Kolsky” Thursday, Kerr said he was “inspired” by Suns center Deandre Ayton’s progression into a breakout playoff star. He added that Ayton’s success could be emulated by James Wiseman, and that Kerr has begun thinking of new ways to deploy his young center.

“The most interesting thing [about the NBA Finals] has been watching Deandre Ayton,” Kerr said, via Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I talk to James and text him. I’m just so inspired by what Ayton has been able to do. And I think there’s no reason why James can’t follow that same path.

“[The Suns] really streamlined his game. You think back a couple years ago and he was kind of all over the map. You could tell how gifted he was, but you weren’t exactly sure what he was. They’ve figured it out.

“I’m watching Ayton quite a bit and I’m thinking a lot about how we can use James and simplify the game and make him really effective for us next year.”

Wiseman was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, but had an up-and-down rookie season that ended prematurely due to injury. Ayton, too, took a while and struggled with consistency before blossoming into the player on display this postseason. It’s probably not a bad comparison for Wiseman to look at.

There are some questions as to whether Wiseman is even in Golden State’s long-term plans. Kerr is talking like he is, but things can certainly change quickly if a good trade opportunity comes along.

Video: This Giannis Antetokounmpo block on Deandre Ayton was a game-changer

Giannis Antetokounmpo block Deandre Ayton

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s defense has been picked on at times during the NBA playoffs, but he came up with a huge play at the right time on Wednesday night.

Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks had just taken a 101-99 lead in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on a jumper by Khris Middleton. The Phoenix Suns came back down, and Devin Booker tried to toss an alley-oop to Deandre Ayton. The shot could have tied the game, but Giannis skied to break up the exchange with a block.

The block was recognized as a huge play in the game. Even though Milwaukee was unable to score on its next possession, they seized control thereafter and won 109-103.

Pat Connaughton’s 3-pointer to give Milwaukee the lead with three minutes left was a game-changer. Giannis’ block sealed it. Those criticisms about his defense now seem so distant.

DeAndre Hopkins shares cool tweet after Deandre Ayton alley-oop

DeAndre HOpkins catch

DeAndre Hopkins shared a cool tweet Wednesday about the similarities in heroics between him and Deandre Ayton.

On Tuesday night, Ayton had the winning alley-oop for the Phoenix Suns in the final second of their 104-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

In November, Hopkins made a ridiculous catch on a Hail Mary to help his Arizona Cardinals beat the Buffalo Bills.

The similarities of the situations led to Hopkins’ tweet. Both players are named Deandre; both play for Arizona teams; both went up high in traffic to make their plays; and both plays were for the win.

What great similarities between the situations.

The Cardinals were 6-3 after that win over Buffalo but finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. The Suns are up 2-0 on the Clippers in the conference finals. Phoenix is hoping Ayton’s play will lead to bigger things than what the Cardinals ended up doing.