Indiana Pacers: Pursuing Deandre Ayton now would be a mistake

Myles Turner, Deandre Ayton - Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Myles Turner, Deandre Ayton - Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers have a lot of money to spend in the offseason. Better yet, with them having a lot of tradeable assets, the front office could free up even more space to facilitate anticipated changes to the roster after a disappointing season.

One player who could dictate the entire summer is big man Deandre Ayton, whose relationship with the Phoenix Suns has soured ever since the team embarrassingly had an early playoff exit. Heading into restricted free agency, the Suns still control their destiny, but matching Ayton’s desired number could prove to be very tough.

The Pacers could realistically make a run at Ayton, but given his bloated perceived value, they could be better off moving out of the sweepstakes for the former first overall pick.

The Indiana Pacers should not pursue Deandre Ayton this offseason

There is legitimate credence for the Indiana Pacers to want Deandre Ayton. He is not the best at creating his own shots from the post, but he is a dream pick-and-roll big man in today’s game with his excellent finishing ability and mid-range shooting. Defensively, Ayton is a standout. He is great at using his size and length to cover up a lot of areas. He’s not the most intimidating shot-blocker, but his defense in the post is elite.

However, those things are never points of contention in the Ayton-Pacers dynamic. The means of even getting to that point is the problem. Ayton’s camp has long expressed their desire to net the center a max contract. Unsurprisingly, even the smartest front offices would have their inhibitions, especially with how he finished the season.

Max contract money is too lofty to give to a player who’s still relatively far away from realizing his true potential. Booming salaries are tendered not as gambles which could backfire (except Michael Porter Jr., apparently), but as surefire retainers for the services of perennial and established winning stars. And Ayton is none of those yet.

Also, the Pacers should know by knwo that the upcoming NBA Draft will set them up better for the future. Even if they want to win as soon as possible, away from the veneers of an actual rebuild, they could do so without breaking the bank for Ayton. Hey, Myles Turner is still a coveted defensive anchor. With their offense almost reliant reliant on backcourt production anyway, they wouldn’t be missing out on something massive.

Hashing out an offer sheet even near max salary will be very dangerous for the Pacers. Even if they go the less expensive track and try to re-route, say, Turner to Phoenix in a sign-and-trade scenario, the point still stands that Indiana will have to sign him to a max deal just to crack the conversation and ignite some traction.

Are the Indiana Pacers really ready to break out of their sacrosanct customs and pay lucrative money in the midst of a rare rebuilding phase?

They could, but they won’t. And they arguably shouldn’t.

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