Rookie max extension talks between the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton have stalled, according to sources.
The 2018 No. 1 pick, Ayton played a major role in the Suns’ magical 2021 finals run and wants nothing less than what many of his draft classmates have gotten.
Class of 2018 draftees Atlanta Hawk Trae Young, Maverick Luka Doncic, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. have all signed max deals.
At just 23, Ayton is eligible for a five-year, $172.5 million extension, with the possibility of the deal ticking up to $207 million.
Many league executives expected a deal to be finalized during this offseason.
However, with an October 18 deadline looming, the Suns’ ownership doesn’t believe Ayton belongs with the aforementioned players.
On the contrary, Ayton believes his performance, size, potential, and the marketplace dictate he deserves a max rookie extension.
Should both sides fail to agree before the deadline, Ayton could enter restricted free agency next summer.
The Suns could match any offer, but they risk creating a certain level of animosity with Ayton if they don’t get him signed now.
Under coach Williams, Ayton blossomed into a two-way star just as the Suns had envisioned him when they selected him three years ago.
All of this once again raises the question about Suns owner Robert Sarver’s commitment to building and maintaining a title contender in the tough Western Conference.
Sarver has not paid the luxury tax since the 2009-10 season, which was the last time Phoenix made the playoffs before a decade-long drought.
For now, Devin Booker and Chris Paul are the only two under max contracts.
Suns forward Mikal Bridges is the other piece of that core who is also eligible for a rookie extension and has not gotten a deal done.
Ayton averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game in his third NBA season.
He raised his output for the playoffs, shooting 66 percent from the field (highest in NBA postseason history) while shooting at least 50 percent in 17 straight playoff games, trailing only Shaquille O’Neal in 2006 for the longest postseason streak.
Ayton also held Finals MVP Giannis Anteteokounmpo to 53 percent shooting, while Antetokounmpo shot 70 percent against the other Suns players.