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Analyzing Deandre Ayton’s potential contract and free agency destinations

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The Deandre Ayton contract situation is going to be a story to follow in the offseason. He’s not happy with his role with the Phoenix Suns and he failed to reach an agreement with the team. He wants to sign a max contract extension and the Suns are hesitant to make him such a big offer.

Ayton’s free agency could be quite interesting. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Suns could use him leading to many more possible NBA offseason trades. That’s assuming another team is willing to pay him as much as he’s looking for.

Deandre Ayton contract situation

Deandre Ayton signed a fully-guaranteed contract worth $40,379,230 over four years. He had an average salary of $10,094,808 and could get a qualifying offer of $16,422,835. Needless to say, he’s looking at a much bigger payday somewhere else.

Ayton contract projections

Obviously, Ayton’s contract projections are better off staying with the Suns than going somewhere else, but that’s assuming they give him a $177 million deal. If that’s the case, his next contract will look like this:

  • 2022-23: $30.5 million
  • 2023-24: $32.9 million
  • 2024-25: $35.4 million
  • 2025-26: $37.8 million
  • 2026-27: $40.3 million

If not, he can sign a four-year, $131.1 million deal with another team.


Five potential destinations for Deandre Ayton in free agency

Ayton may not be back with the Suns but he’s sure to attract plenty of interest in free agency. He’s still young, showed glimpses of a much-improved defense, and has already proven that he can be a focal point on the offensive end of the floor. His rebounding skills and face-up offense would be welcomed by multiple franchises.

The Arizona product has been tied with several teams over the past couple of months, even before last season’s trade deadline. But now that he can choose his next destination, the Suns could either let him walk away or work out a sign-and-trade with him. Here, we take a look at the five most likely destinations.

5. Bulls

Nikola Vucevic was quite good in his first half-season with the Chicago Bulls, but not so much this season. He was a defensive liability more often than not and didn’t seem to be a good fit next to Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Ayton, on the other hand, is more of an old-school big who’ll bruise and pound inside the paint. Also, he’s more athletic and can play above the rim, which favors their up-tempo offense.

More than that, Ayton made great strides on the defensive end last season, proving that he can be a rim protector despite all the doubts about his defensive commitment. He’s still a work in progress in that regard, but he’d be a big improvement over Vucevic.

4. Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers have stated that they have no intention of tanking next season. They’ll try to put a competitive squad around Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. And, with Jusuf Nurkic most likely heading out the door, there’s an opening at center in Rip City. Also, Ayton is younger and with a higher upside at this point in his career.


Even if the Blazers find themselves way away from playoff contention and decide to trade Lillard at some point, landing Ayton would give them another cornerstone for the future alongside Simons. They could also trade their 7th pick in the upcoming Draft to add even more win-now talent to their roster.

3. Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets have a glaring need at the five right now. They run one of the most electric and entertaining offenses in the league but they have no interior presence whatsoever. That should be a point of emphasis for Michael Jordan in the offseason. Ayton would thrive with LaMelo Ball throwing lobs and passes off the glass.

The Hornets have a young, up-and-coming team and figure to be playoff hopefuls for the foreseeable future, but they need to make a big move. Having Ayton, Ball, and Miles Bridges as their Big 3 would certainly point them in the right direction.

2. Spurs

What do David Robinson and Tim Duncan have in common? They were both coached by Gregg Popovich. And while we’re not saying that Ayton would turn out to be as good as those Hall of Famers, that has to be a thought on the back of his mind.

The San Antonio Spurs are reportedly keeping tabs on him and they’d instantly make him the focal point of their offense. He’d have the big role he wants while also getting paid as much as he feels he deserves. What’s not to like here?

1. Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks could move on from Clint Capela. They could use a better offensive option in Deandre Ayton while Onyeka Okongwu comes off the bench to provide a defensive punch. Also, Ayton and John Collins would be one of the bigger, stronger frontcourts in the league.

The Hawks promised Trae Young they’d get him more help and they haven’t exactly done that thus far. But they have plenty of contracts to match salary and assets to pull the trigger in the offseason and make a move or two. The latest Ayton rumors state that they’re interested in his services, and they could look to have two of the first five picks of the class of 2018.

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