The rookie extension deadline came and went with Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns failing to agree on an extension, providing the San Antonio Spurs with an interesting opportunity. Ayton will now become a restricted free agent after this season and the Spurs could have the cap space needed to extend a max offer.
However, I believe the Suns may eventually make him available for trade during the season. If that becomes the case, San Antonio should strongly consider acquiring Ayton this season instead of waiting until the summer. After all, the Suns decided against signing him to a max five-year extension, signaling that Phoenix has doubts about his potential.
While the Suns were right to be hesitant to sign Ayton to a $172 million deal, the decision not to give him a max extension could be costly. Historically, teams try to lock up talented players like Ayton for as long as possible when they're eligible for a rookie extension.
However, by not doing so, it could be seen as a slight to Ayton and may have damaged the relationship between player and team, something that Suns owner Robert Salver is notorious for doing.
Ayton, who was drafted first overall in 2018, has averaged a stellar 15.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks while shooting 58.7% from the field for his career. With him potentially unhappy, the Spurs should aggressively pursue the center via trade.
With all that being said, let’s examine possible trade options for Ayton.