Ayton expected a maximum contract and owner Robert Sarver hasn’t offered it yet for the 2018 No. 1 overall pick.
Ayton, a key part of the Suns’ run to the 2021 NBA Finals, has no intention of accepting a deal less than the comparable max contracts signed by several of his 2018 NBA draft classmates, including Atlanta’s Trae Young, Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Denver’s Michael Porter Jr., sources told ESPN. That stance hasn’t changed.
Ayton, 23, was eligible for a five-year, $172.5 million extension, with escalators that could reach $207 million — a deal that many executives leaguewide expected would be complete in short order this offseason.
A significant part of Ayton’s development and maturity has revolved around the relationship and trust he has built with coach Monty Williams in their two seasons together. That could be tested now.
Ayton blossomed under Williams, becoming the two-way force the Suns imagined when selecting him at No. 1 three years ago.
Ayton averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a game in his third NBA season in 2020-21. Among his playoff successes, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information data, his 66% postseason field goal percentage was the highest in NBA history. He shot at least 50% in 17 straight playoff games, trailing only Shaquille O’Neal (2006) for the longest postseason streak in league history.
Ayton held NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to 53% shooting as the primary defender in the Finals, while Antetokounmpo shot 70% against the rest of the Suns.