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The Suns Completely Botched Deandre Ayton Contract Extension Talks

Ryan Phillips
2021 NBA Finals - Game Five
2021 NBA Finals - Game Five / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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The Phoenix Suns and star center Deandre Ayton have broken off contract extension talks without a deal. Ayton was looking for the full five-year max extension after the 23-year-old helped lead the Suns to the NBA Finals last season. Apparently, owner Robert Sarver never offered the max to his young star and talks have come to an end.

The full five-year max would have been worth a guaranteed $172.5 million plus potential escalators. The Suns and their prized youngster failed to come to agreement before Monday's 6 p.m. ET deadline.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, the Suns were hoping for a shorter deal of perhaps three or four years. The organization has apparently been consistent in its belief that it doesn't view Ayton as a max contract player.

With no deal in place, Ayton can become a restricted free agent next summer. That will allow him to sign an offer sheet elsewhere, while the Suns will have a right to match it. He could also sign a qualifying offer with the Suns for an additional season, then become an unrestricted free agent after the 2022-23 season.

In his third season last year, Ayton averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 30.7 minutes per game. He hit a career-best 62.6 percent of his shots from the field, and 76.9 percent of his free throws.

Ayton, the top pick from the 2018 NBA Draft, has stood by this summer while fellow draft classmates Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr. signed max extensions with their respective teams. Meanwhile, the Suns signed Mikal Bridges to a four-year, $90 million extension, and gave Landry Shamet a four-year, $43 million deal. All of that news has to rankle Ayton, who is a huge part of the franchise and the team's run to a Western Conference title last season.

The fact that the Suns don't believe Ayton was worthy of max money is an enormous risk for the franchise.

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