The Indiana Pacers gave their best effort in their attempt to acquire restricted free agent Deandre Ayton. The Phoenix Suns matched the Pacers’ offer of four years, $133M – the largest offer sheet in NBA history. After days of speculation and rumors surrounding a potential deal, it was all for nothing.
The Indiana Pacers aren’t shy about spending money to get a player of value to their roster.
Ok, so what the heck happened? The Pacers extended an offer sheet to Deandre Ayton on Thursday afternoon, which Adrian Wojnarowski reported Ayton planned to sign. Then, Ayton officially signed the Pacers’ offer late Thursday evening, which put all the pressure on Phoenix to either match Indiana’s offer or lose him for nothing in return.
The Pacers then decided to make the necessary moves to allow the space for a max contract which they did by waiving Duane Washington Jr. and waiving and stretching the three players who arrived in the Boston trade in Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, and Nik Stauskas.
The Suns chose to match. So what does this mean for both parties? For Phoenix, they keep an awesome young talent on their roster who can’t be traded until Jan. 15 of next year, and Ayton has veto power in any trade. Conversely, this takes them out of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes as Ayton is a piece that cant be traded.
"“Matching the offer sheet puts Phoenix in the tax with a projected $32M penalty. A cost of $62M this season to keep Ayton”, per Bobby Marks of ESPN."
He also reports that the Pacers offer sheet was straight up – no trade kicker, no player option, or salary advance. He can’t be traded to the Pacers for a full year.
The Pacers still have the $30M in cap space to spend this offseason if they choose. They can re-sign Duane Washington Jr. after he clears waivers, but that wouldn’t be anywhere near a large deal. Then they have to think about Myles Turner in all this. They made it clear that they want an upgrade in the position long-term, and he is entering the last year of his contract.
Indiana can try to move him and Buddy Hield to retain future assets and maybe make a stab at Ayton down the road, but Turner may be at a breaking point. How many offseason has he been on the trade block? I think the Pacers will let him play out this season and seek the free agency market once his contract is over. Making a trade for him now makes sense after chasing Ayton – who knows how he feels about Indiana.
I applaud the Pacers front office for identifying a change and putting their chips in to acquire a player of Ayton’s caliber. The Pacers have never had a No. 1 overall pick on their roster so this would have been a monumental signing for the franchise. Ayton wanted to come to Indiana, as it seems playing alongside rising star Tyrese Haliburton is quite appealing to many around the league. The $133M helps too.