One of the most important free agent dominos fell on Thursday when it fell the sun She retained Deandre Ayton, to match the four-year, $133 million offer sheet that the center signed with Pacers.
Eaton, who turns 24 on July 23, was a restricted free agent after failing to sign an extension with Phoenix last summer. He averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season, helping the team finish the regular season with the best record in the NBA. The signing of Eaton should have some significant ripple effects across the league, as it has been repeatedly mentioned as a potential trading chip in Kevin Durant’s deal, while the Pacers are still looking for a promotion in the center.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what Ayton’s signature means to The Suns, Networks The Pacers.
Phoenix brings it back… now
Even after the shameful Game 7 defeat against the Mavericks, the Suns brought back most of the 64-game winning slate in 2021-2022. Phoenix’s five start should be the same for a third consecutive season with Ayton in tow, and major bench contributors like Cameron Payne and Cam Johnson are also stuck. On the face of it, keeping the franchise’s best team heart together is a no-brainer. As ugly as Phoenix’s loss in Game 7 was, there is enough evidence to believe that this group could compete for a title in a loaded west. On the court, Eaton fits in perfectly with Chris Paul and Devin Booker. A multi-talented on both ends of the earth, he is improving as a versatile offensive defender and team defender. And he should continue to grow as a player as he enters his early season, particularly as he plays in the high-stakes post-season games.
Financial commitment is also a good sign. With the return of Ayton, as it is currently constructed, and Suns paying their luxury tax for the first time since 2009, banner ownership is ready to foot the bill needed to win a title.
Off the field, Phoenix’s long song and dance with iTunes were awkward at best. By not extending it last season, Suns essentially avoided giving Ayton a five-year contract worth more per year, forcing him to find an outside offer. Was that worth any impact on team chemistry? Eaton barely played in the second half of the Game 7 loss to Dallas, and Monty Williams strongly described it as an “internal” problem after the game. Although Phoenix quickly matched Ayton’s offer, it didn’t make him feel wanted last year. It’s a strange tactic to use with an ex-player. 1 Choose who becomes a main gear for a title contender, especially when he has room to grow. Relations appeared to be strained in Phoenix by the end of the season. Aligning everyone’s motivations before chasing the title would be as much success for this team as what happens between two baskets.
Bottom line: The Suns will have really high ground as long as Eaton, Booker and Paul play together. But don’t be shocked if Ayton’s name appears in the trade rumors at some point during this decade’s run.
Kevin Durant’s options are dwindling
Speaking of deals, a Kevin Durant-to-Phoenix deal is much less likely in the wake of Ayton’s signing. Even if the Nets are said to have been fantastic to Ayton as a player – be it real or a draft pick situation – the signing and trading he’s involved in made a lot of sense in Durant’s assumptions. Since Suns has matched a bid sheet to Ayton, it cannot be traded until January 23rd. 15 at the earliest, and he can object to any deal in the first year of his deal. That means he can’t be dealt with this summer, and if he’s shipped to a third team in your favorite fake Durant deal, Eaton could scrap it with his finger. (I like to believe the trades were officially rejected in Dikembe Mutombo style.)
Go to follow
It’s not impossible for Suns to trade for Durant now, but it gets even more difficult without being able to get Ayton involved. If the signature takes Phoenix out of Durant’s race, KD now has one team less on the list of destinations he can practically get. Maybe that helps a team like the Heat. Or maybe he’s cheering for a small market team like the Grizzlies. Or he might convince the Nets to bring Durant back, which could have implications for Kyrie Irving, which may have an impact on what the Lakers do this summer. I was serious about this being a domino master!
With an important team dropping out of the Durant sweepstakes, the networks may have a little more influence in trying to bring Durant back for another season, or to create stronger showings from teams that aren’t on KD’s wish list. Durant’s status will likely continue to decline for the foreseeable future, but his chances of landing with the Suns appear to have taken a serious blow.
Uh, so Miles Turner?
The Pacers pulled Ayton to have a chat next to the fire pit even though they were already tied for a position at Miles Turner, and now the team once again has to figure out what to do about his front area.
Turner has been mentioned in trade rumors for years, yet she can’t be moved. Last season, Indiana appeared to make a half-hearted commitment of sorts to Turner by trading Domantas Sabonis. Turner seemed excited about the prospect of playing a bigger role with the team, so he may not have been happy that the front office tried to replace him.
Turner is entering the final year of a deal that pays him $17.5 million, and I would be surprised if he finishes this season with Indy. The Pacers finally transferred Malcolm Brogdon for a pittance, and I can finally see them doing the same to Turner to get at least Something in returns. Clearly, Indy does not see Turner as a long-term solution in the position, and now he could enter training camp as his backup option in the position. The team will likely offer some kind of public support to Turner at some point in the wake of Ayton’s petting. However, it’s hard to imagine that Turner isn’t somehow more available than he was before this summer.
Watch NBA live with fuboTV: start your 7-day trial today!
More NBA coverage: