KEY POINTS

  • The Phoenix Suns have more to lose when it comes to Deandre Ayton, per a new report
  • Suns owner Robert Sarver could be repeating his 2005 mistake with Joe Johnson
  • Ayton will be forced to prove himself again this coming season

The Phoenix Suns are making its biggest gamble in recent memory by not re-signing Deandre Ayton, according to a new report.

Kevin Pelton of ESPN weighed both sides’ stances and argued that the Suns have more to lose going into the new NBA season.

“Given the Suns' willingness to extend forward Mikal Bridges at the market rate, however, I suspect this is more about not wanting to overreact to [Deandre] Ayton's playoff run,” Pelton wrote.

Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the news that the outstanding wing player was getting a rookie extension worth four years, $90 million, keeping him in “The Valley” until the summer of 2026.

It was thought that the Bridges extension would give the Suns and Ayton a way forward on what they could do to get a deal done this offseason.

Hours later, Wojnarowski delivered the news that Ayton and the front office have left negotiations without an extension signed.

The 6-foot-11 from Nassau, Bahamas was demanding a max contract similar to that of which his peers Luka Doncic and Trae Young received from their respective teams during this offseason.

Suns owner Robert Sarver elected not to pay Ayton the max, with no confirmation yet as to what the sticking point is.

Pelton opined that it could be because the franchise is looking at Ayton’s body of work across his three seasons, and not just his stellar performance in the playoffs.

With that reasoning comes a massive gamble of Ayton betting on himself this season to secure the deal next summer.

The first pick of the 2018 NBA draft will have to improve on his career numbers of 16 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks across 178 regular-season games to prove that he is deserving of a max contract.

Sarver lamented his mistake of not signing swingman Joe Johnson to a respectable contract in the summer of 2005, and he could be repeating this same mistake with Ayton if he goes the Johnson route.

Pelton offers a sobering talking point in comparing Ayton’s baseline production to that of Andre Drummond, who went from being a max contract player to becoming a veteran minimum signing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Centers have seen their value decline more quickly than players at other positions as their athleticism becomes less of an advantage. I don't think that's a justification for maxing [Deandre] Ayton ahead of time without attempting to negotiate,” Pelton elaborated.

The uncertainty around Ayton will surely become a major talking point throughout the season as they welcome the Denver Nuggets to the Footprint Center on Wednesday, October 20 to kick off what fans hope to be another run to the NBA Finals.