Deandre Ayton remained a member of the Phoenix Suns after the team matched the Indiana Pacers’ maximum four-year offer sheet of $133 million, creating some ripple effects for this season and beyond.
One important detail that emerged after the Ayton news was that the bid sheet did not include a player or kicker option to trade, According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks,. These are some of the tricks that can be turned into contracts to reduce the probability of a team match, and also one of the drawbacks of a restricted free agency.
You’ll remember how we discussed last October that the Utah Jazz lost Gordon Hayward after only three years because he signed a 3+1 bid with a fourth-year player option. He refused and joined the Boston Celtics.
The fact that Suns doesn’t have to deal with either of those two things or the single and portable salary structure is huge. The odd game of chicken in Indiana trying to force a signature and circulation didn’t pay off (okay, got it?).
Ayton’s arrival put the Suns in the 14 listed players and over the tax threshold of about $17 million for a luxury tax bill of about $35 million per Spotrac.
Ayton’s signature on this offer sheet in lieu of a five-year extension, $177 million in fall pillows he could have gotten a little off that bill, which the Suns should cash in.
There are two different ways to think about it.
Fine, We’ll talk about Kevin Durant first.
Brooklyn, according to multiple reports, did not want Ayton. The problem, however, is that the Suns sent Ayton to a third or fourth team as part of a larger deal with a signing and trading that allowed them to provide Brooklyn with more assets.
Felt like extra juice to get a deal over the top. Now, the default package centers around Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, drag picks and at least one Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet or Dario Saric due to their mid-level and team-friendly contracts. Eaton’s return in these scenarios limited Phoenix to just two players, maybe even three, but it had to be. at least Three now.
The problem is that Durant’s direct 1-to-1 deal significantly hampers Suns’ turnover and its ability to correct it afterward. Arizona Sports John Gambadoro has reported in the past couple of weeks that Phoenix does not want to have its roster in a potential Durant deal but this is nearly impossible to do without more teams getting involved.
If it comes to Bridges, Johnson, Crowder, four unprotected first-round picks and some trade-offs, how do the Suns replace Bridges? Add another ball handler? They are just about to run out of resources on this layout.
Therefore, it is likely that the Suns will once again need to rely on finding a third and possibly fourth team to either help them get the salary to match Durant’s guaranteed return or meet some of those needs in the same deal.
I have my own reservations about whether Phoenix has enough to make an offer that Brooklyn will accept. Then again, if Durant only wants to be on the Suns, he’ll be done.
The extra ease in this, and something I haven’t discussed since Durant’s trade order, is playing Eaton and Durant together. This mitigates the decline of Bridges’ departure in Durant’s trade, particularly in defense.
Part of the reason I didn’t think it was the heights the tax bill would go to.
Theoretically, if the Suns traded Kevin Durant using the minimum allowable salary ($35.3 million) and filled the list with Vet Mins…
Salary Bill – approximately $178 million
Tax invoice – about $76.5 million
– David (@theIVpointplay) 15 July 2022
The sun is comfortable with that, according to Gambadoro.
The Suns are committed to doing whatever it takes to win the championship, and that includes paying a hefty luxury tax of 60-70-80 million if they feel that’s what they have to do.
– John Gambador (@Gambo987) July 14, 2022
And remember, this doesn’t just have to be about Durant. If sweepstakes go south for Phoenix, they can still follow further promotions in the commercial market.
Finally, on the bragging front, how about extending Johnson if he’s still a member of The Sun?
To get back to who could be in motion, the Suns spindle is now Ayton, Saric, Bismack Biyombo, and Jock Landale. Phoenix must want to stick with Saric and the occasional dynamism in the playmaking spans five things he missed a lot last season.
It also has limited trading chips, and at the end of the day we’re talking about another 14-18 minutes Ayton didn’t play which Biyombo proved capable of last year.
The Suns still has a mid-level exemption for taxpayers of about $6.5 million to use for free agency as well. The options are very limited. Dennis Schroeder is the only one who showed up to me. Regardless, the only downside is a higher tax bill, and risking it on a player who could be a cog off the bench is well worth it. We’ve seen how much a lack of depth hurts the sun once the lights get brighter.
All of this remains for Suns’ front desk who has definitely planned two different scenarios.
For now, we’re back in the same waiting game with Durant. Patience to all! stay strong!