In a perfect world, the San Antonio Spurs would be able to snag Deandre Ayton this offseason and significantly improve their chances at a return to the NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately, a recent report suggests those odds could be diminishing by the day.
At 6-11 and just 23 years old, Ayton is exactly the kind of mobile big with a jump shot the Spurs badly need this summer. He averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this season and has increased his scoring to over 20 points per game in the playoffs so far.
Ayton's pick and roll abilities and efforts on the glass would certainly help make San Antonio a playoff team, and they'd be wise to make every effort to poach him from Phoenix. That's easier said than done though.
In their predictions of what will happen with top free agents this summer, the team at BasketballNews.com shared some thoughts on the talented center.
"According to a league source, Phoenix is more than comfortable paying up and going deep into the luxury tax as long as its roster is competing for championships," said writer Evan Sidery. "It would be truly stunning to see Ayton playing elsewhere in 2022-23."
This was already clear to many, but with the Suns now up 2-0 and in prime position to make another appearance in the Western Conference Finals, Phoenix's status as a contender is being solidified by the day.
While discouraging, the report is expected
Everyone loves winning, and it makes sense that the Suns would be even more determined to bring back Ayton if they feel like he's playing a big part in potentially winning an NBA title. Since they made the NBA Finals last year, their standards are probably pretty high, so falling short of that could possibly open the door for change on the roster.
Would a second or third round loss make Ayton up for grabs? That's very unlikely. But the more Phoenix wins with him, that already small chance is getting even smaller. As much as it probably hurts Spurs fans to root for Dallas, they should be doing so even if it makes San Antonio's chances of nabbing Ayton go from 2% to 4%.
Sidery caps off his article by predicting Ayton will test the market and sign a four-year max offer sheet elsewhere that the Suns will eventually match. That's a likely scenario, but free agency can be wild sometimes, so we'll have to see if the Spurs have any tricks up their sleeves in the next couple of months.