What happened to the Phoenix Suns’ decision to match the restricted free agent with the Indiana Pacers’ max offer sheet? Deandre Ayton Meaning for them and the Pacers?
Shortly after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Ayton had signed a four-year, $133 million offer sheet from Indiana, the Suns decided not to use the full two days they had available to match it. The move keeps Ayton in Phoenix, but limits the team’s options to trade the 2019 No. 1 overall pick.
The Suns are barred from trading any free agent until Jan. 15 to receive a raise like Ayton. For the rest of next year, Ayton must agree to any trade and cannot be given to the Pacers.
Bringing back Ayton pushes Phoenix well over the NBA’s luxury tax line, a rarity for a team that last paid the tax in 2008-09, per Spotrac.com. This could mean more changes in store for the Suns and complicate the pursuit of a trade for the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin DurantHe named Phoenix a preferred destination when he requested a trade from the Nets.
Let’s break down the full implications of Jupiter’s transits for Suns and Pacers.
Matching the pacers’ offer was an obvious decision
As long as Ayton remains unsigned, the Suns have plenty of alternatives if they don’t want to pay him the max. A sign-and-trade could have sent him to several players to improve Phoenix’s forward depth and bring a replacement back under center on a cheap deal. Or maybe Ayton was included as part of the Durant deal.
Now, those opportunities are off the board. Ayton can’t be traded until January 15th and can’t be sent to Indiana for the rest of the year. He must sign any trades during that span.
However, the Suns can trade Ayton to anywhere he wants before the trade deadline in February. That helps explain why Phoenix is willing to match Indiana’s offer sheet despite not wanting to offer Ayton a similar deal last fall or at the start of free agency, according to Wojnarowski. He had the guts to sign an offer sheet with another team.
Then, the Sun can expect some more favorable effects. With so few teams holding the maximum cap space, Ayton could have languished in restricted free agency and signed his one-year, $16.4 million qualifying offer, opting for a smaller contract with Phoenix. Alternatively, the Suns could have found a sign and trade involving Ayden that they wanted.
Controlling Phoenix options changed that decision. The Suns no longer have a choice between a sign-and-trade or Ayton at the max, but whether to keep him at that price (which is slightly cheaper than the four-year max contract offered by Phoenix because there would have been an offer sheet. 5% annual raise as opposed to 8%, about $5.55 over the life of the contract). million difference) or let him walk the whole way.
Ayden’s fitting takes the sun deep into the luxury line. They are now $16 million over the tax line with 14 players under contract, including the center Jack Landale, whose contract is often non-guaranteed. Phoenix will have an opportunity to lower that bill with moves in the interim, including a possible Ayton trade.
The tax bill could change the Suns’ thinking on a deal for Durant. Since Ayton can’t be added this summer, Phoenix will almost certainly ship less than Durant’s combined salary of $44 million in 2022-23. Addition of additional wages is not acceptable in those circumstances.
The key to the Suns’ decision here is that even if they don’t think Ayton has maximum value, other teams clearly do. A team in championship contention can’t afford to lose Ayton, no matter how much doubt his value is, the talent drain.
The Pacers prioritize using cap space for trades
Offer sheets for restricted free agents have become rare in recent years (the first since the Sacramento Kings declined to match an offer from the Atlanta Hawks. Bogdan Bogdanovic Free agency in 2020, and Deuce Jones (signed each other the previous three summers) in part because they combined a team’s cap space.
At this point, Indiana doesn’t mind recouping the $31 million it used to sign Ayton until he officially passes his physical in Phoenix (which the Suns can drag out for up to four days if they want). No other free agent can make that kind of offer.
If they want, the Pacers can try their hand at restricted free agency again with the Cleveland Cavaliers guard. Colin Sexton, unsigned, Indiana and the San Antonio Spurs are the only two teams using cap space. However, Sexton doesn’t fill the need for speedsters who have drafted wings with the last two first-round picks (Chris Duarte And Benedict Mathurin) and have the elder Buddy Hield In the mix.
Indiana will have the rest of its cap space to acquire salary via trade. Depending on what happens on Phoenix’s payroll, the two teams could eventually partner on a deal Torrey Craig (Sent to Phoenix by Indiana last year at the trade deadline) Or Dario Saric.
The Pacers could enter a matchup with San Antonio Russell Westbrook’s $47 million salary is eventually traded in space, which could be part of a deal Kyrie Irving Los Angeles Lakers. To do so, Indiana would have to send a high-paid player along with Hield and the starting center Miles Turner Obvious candidates should be included.
Despite the Suns’ decision to match, the remainder of the Aiden offer sheet remains on the Pacers’ books. Indiana needs to avoid rookies to create needed cap space Malik Fitz, John Morgan And Nick Stauskas (Recently acquired from the Boston Celtics Malcolm Broughton Commerce) and extend their salary over the next three years. That leaves a small amount of dead money (less than $2 million) on the Pacers’ books for the next three seasons.