The 2021-22 NBA season is quickly approaching, with season openers slated to tip-off this week. The Phoenix Suns will open their season at the Foot Print Center against Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets. The Suns have had a solid offseason, but there is one signing Phoenix has botched — the negotiations with Deandre Ayton’s contract.
Deandre Ayton’s Contract Talks Have Stalled
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report on Deandre Ayton’s contract dispute, and since then the talks have gotten worse. Ayton is feeling disrespected by the fact that contract talks are still looming.
Deandre Ayton addresses contract talks, saying he's "disappointed" a deal hasn't gotten done and he wants to be respected like his peers as ESPN reported last week contract talks were stalled over getting rookie max extension. #Suns pic.twitter.com/XVtj06fojN
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) October 12, 2021
“I love Phoenix but I’m really disappointed that we haven’t really gotten a deal done yet,” Ayton explained on his contract. “We were two wins from a championship and I just really want to be respected, to be honest. Be respected like my peers are being respected by their teams.”
The former 1st overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft has seen his fellow draftees sign massive contracts. This past offseason the league has seen players like Luka Dončić, Michael Porter Jr, Trae Young and many more. Not only did Ayton witness this around the league, but he has also witnessed this on his own team. Two of his teammates, Mikal Bridges, and Landry Shamet, were both drafted in 2018 and have both received extensions on their rookie deals from Phoenix.
The Phoenix Suns are coming off a Finals appearance and will do everything in their power to return to the promised land. But returning to the Finals will be easier said than done, especially considering the financial stress the Suns will be under. The contract Deandre Ayton is seeking is a five-year deal that could be worth $172 million.
ESPN Sources: Suns talks with Deandre Ayton on rookie extension have ended — without a deal. Ayton expected max contract and owner Robert Sarver hasn’t offered it. More coming on consequences for failing to reach deal with 2018 No. 1 overall pick. NBA Today debut, ESPN2. Now.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2021
But this outcome is not what the Suns envisioned heading into this offseason. The two biggest goals Phoenix had this offseason were resigning Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton. Fortunately, they were able to resign Chris Paul, but with no resolution in sight for Ayton, this could be a major hurdle.
The Biggest Problem
It appears Deandre Ayton’s contract dispute will not be resolved before Wednesday’s season opener, which is a critical problem. Ayton has voiced his frustrations with the team and the NBA has seen a situation like this many times before — most do not end well.
Ayton is a leader in the locker room and this situation could wreak havoc on the team. If one of your major players is unhappy with the front office, it almost always affects his play on the court. This could stunt his growth and will hurt the Suns’ chances of returning to the NBA Finals. Combine that with the potential locker rooms problems this could cause, and it seems like the Suns could be in for a long season.
But Ayton is a different player and maybe, this will not affect his persona in the locker room nor his play. But it is a fair question to ask. Sam Amick of The Athletic sat down with Suns GM James Jones and asked him just that question.
“He wants to be here. We want him here. We’re dedicated to his growth, to his development. It’s the same as Day One. That hasn’t changed,” James Jones explained to Sam Amick. “The contract issue will have to be resolved another day, but our commitment to him and to winning, and his commitment to us and to winning, hasn’t changed. And so yeah, today we didn’t get a deal done. But we want to bring a championship to this city.”
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