The Phoenix Suns’ decision not to offer Deandre Ayton a max contract extension last summer suggested that a split was imminent.
Surely enough, tensions between Ayton and the team reached a boiling point in the lead-up to the Suns’ premature elimination from the NBA playoffs this year.
At this point it feels like a foregone conclusion that Ayton is leaving Phoenix.
The question now is simply where he’ll end up.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams are currently legitimate suitors for Ayton’s services.
“There are three teams most often linked by league personnel as Ayton’s potential suitors on the open market: Atlanta, Detroit and Portland,” he wrote.
“Multiple team executives also pointed to Charlotte, with a clear hole at center, and San Antonio, one of the few teams with significant cap space, as possible landing spots for Ayton.”
Phoenix had the opportunity to retain Ayton last summer at a $170 million price tag. The front office refused. Nothing happened between then and now to suggest that their feelings on the big man’s worth had changed.
In 2021-22 Ayton averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. He is definitely a meaningful contributor when he is on his game, but it’s unclear how meaningful. An answer will likely emerge with whatever team he lands on next.
The Suns are fresh off a very heated playoff series and have found themselves on the wrong end of a lot of criticism recently.
The photos speak for themselves.https://t.co/VLUWFIrOzN
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 25, 2022
How will they ultimately bounce back next season?
Time will tell.
Related: Ben Simmons, GF Maya Jama Post Provocative Vacation Photos