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Phoenix Suns GM indicates team wants to re-sign Deandre Ayton in free agency

Vincent Frank

Phoenix Suns star center Deandre Ayton is set to become a restricted free agent during the summer. His status moving forward in the desert is up in the air after the Suns’ brass refused to sign the former No. 1 pick to a max contract extension ahead of the 2021-22 season.

The issues here have been magnified since following Phoenix’ ugly second-round exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Playoffs and the fact that its brass doesn’t view Ayton has a max-type player.

For his part, the youngster doesn’t feel valued by the Suns and would likely welcome a change of scenery. Meanwhile, other teams are reportedly lining up to offer him the max with the Suns unlikely to match in that scenario.

Suns general manager James Jones gave his season-ending press conference to the media on Wednesday. In it, the 2021 NBA Executive of the Year indicated that Phoenix wants to re-sign Ayton.

“We want to continue to keep our consistency and continuity and keep the guys that we have.”

Phoenix Suns GM James Jones on Deandre Ayton

This is going to be easier said than done with Ayton likely set to receive offers in excess of the five-year, $172.5 million extension his fellow 2018 classmates received recently. That includes Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr.

Related: Deandre Ayton and top 2022 NBA free agents

It seems more likely that a sign-and-trade to another team will have to be worked out during the summer. Ayton’s obvious frustration with the organization coupled with what could be some drama behind the scenes adds another layer to this.

“His contract situation is between him and the front office. I care about him as a brother. Just making sure his mental is right…whatever happens, happens. Kind of hard to look so far in the future.”

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Phoenix Suns headed for interesting offseason with Deandre Ayton situation as a backdrop

NBA: Playoffs-Phoenix Suns at Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One year after earning a surprise trip to the NBA Playoffs and immediately after boasting the best regular-season record in the Association, Phoenix lost in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. It was absolutely humiliated at home in Game 7 by the Mavericks. How bad was it? Suns fans booed them off the court with the team down by 30 at the half.

Chris Paul will come back for another season. Devin Booker is the face of the franchise. Mikal Bridges isn’t going anywhere after earning an in-season extension from Phoenix. Given Ayton’s previous level of success and the interest in him, it stands to reason that he’ll be the odd-man out.

  • Deandre Ayton stats (career): 16.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 63% shooting

The question now becomes whether Phoenix can work out a sign-and-trade for the star center. Of course, this is all dependent on Jones being able to talk owner Robert Sarver into giving Ayton the max. He didn’t seem all-too willing during the 2021-22 season.

“If we can get something that works for both sides, we definitely would,” Suns owner Robert Sarver said last October.