As one of the biggest remaining names available in NBA free agency, Deandre Ayton’s market has mostly been cold. The Phoenix Suns don’t appear eager to pay their 23-year-old starting center max money, and neither do any of the other teams in the association. Or at least that’s the current presumption.
But that doesn’t mean an Ayton deal can’t come together soon. Eventually he’ll find a team willing to pay him.
According to Brian Windhorst, that organization might just be the Indiana Pacers. Windhorst said on Monday that the Pacers are close to sending Ayton an offer, or working out a sign-and-trade with the Suns. He even suggests it could all come together as soon as today.
Pacers landing Deandre Ayton would prompt another trade
If Deandre Ayton, a starting center, joins the Indiana Pacers, it likely means Myles Turner’s departure is on the horizon. It could even mean Turner gets included in a potential sign-and-trade, sending the 26-year-old rim protector back to the Suns as partial compensation.
For the Pacers, having the chance to go from Turner to Ayton may seem more appealing, as they’re not currently built to win right away. Having Ayton, who’s three years younger than Turner, would better align with their competitive timeline, being in a similar age group as Tyrese Haliburton, Chris Duarte and others.
The Pacers are one of the few teams who have the cap space to sign Ayton (though not for the max), and if his salary is what’s most important, we could see the former No. 1 overall pick land in the Hoosier state. But first, they’ll have to make sure the Suns aren’t prepared to match the contract offer. Or, complete a sign-and-trade that still allows the Suns to get something back in return for letting Ayton go.