Will Ayton’s max deal give the Phoenix Suns buyer’s remorse?

Deandre Ayton (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Deandre Ayton (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Despite reports to the contrary, the Phoenix Suns chose to bring back former number one overall pick DeAndre Ayton on a 4-year, $133 million max contract. While Ayton actually signed a max offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, the Phoenix Suns chose to match, ensuring that they kept Ayton around.

The Phoenix Suns did save around $40 million by opting not to offer him a 5-year max last summer, but it might’ve permanently hurt their relationship with one of their best players. After all, there was definitely some tension last season between coach Monty Williams and Ayton, and Ayton can’t feel great about how the Suns were apparently willing to let him leave until they decided against it.

That all could be a distant memory, however, if Ayton and the Suns come out strong next season. Based on how last year ended, that doesn’t seem likely, but teams that feature Chris Paul usually do very well in the regular season. The playoffs are a different story, but the Suns still have the same team that won 64 games last season. That wouldn’t be the case, had Ayton left.

DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
DeAndre Ayton (Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports) /

Will Ayton’s max deal give the Phoenix Suns buyer’s remorse?

In terms of cost, the answer is likely yes. The Suns will be a tax team in the immediate future by keeping Ayton and will have to pay an additional $35 million in luxury tax next season unless they trade him. On-court, however, the Suns need him. He anchors their defense and gives Paul a lob threat, plus he has even more untapped offensive potential.

Without him, both their defense and offense would’ve suffered. After previously missing the playoffs 10 years in a row, Phoenix has made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, even making the NBA Finals. They can’t afford to backslide. Letting Ayton walk, without a reasonable facsimile to replace him, would’ve guaranteed that.

Fortunately, owner Robert Sarver didn’t pinch pennies, something he’s previously been accused of doing before, and the Suns will get another shot at winning a championship next season. Even when Paul inevitably retires, Ayton, along with Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges, will be a great core for the Suns to continue building around. Even if Phoenix doesn’t see Ayton as a part of the team’s future, they’ve at least retained him and can trade him for players and future assets.

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Overall, the decision to match the offer from Indiana was a smart one, even if it will cost around $33 million annually plus the luxury tax. Ayton would be too hard to replace, and the Suns can’t risk taking a step back just to save money. Therefore, the Suns shouldn’t have buyer’s remorse with Ayton since he’ll help the team remain in title contention.