On Monday, the contract extension deadline for the 2018 NBA Draft class. The No. 1 pick in the draft, Deandre Ayton, was not given a contract extension from the Phoenix Suns. Ayton wanted a max deal, which would have been a five-year, $172.5 million deal.
By not signing an extension prior to the deadline, Ayton will become a restricted free agent following the 2021-2022 season. With him being a restricted free agent, the Suns have the right to match any deal that Ayton receives during free agency.
Before the deadline hit, the Suns extended Mikal Bridges (4 yrs/$90 mil) and Landry Shamet (4 yrs/$43 mil). Bridges is becoming one of the premier 3-and-D payers in the league. Last year, he shot a career-high 42.5 percent from beyond the arc and has been one of the top defensive players on the team.
As for Shamet, Phoenix acquired him in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets in a draft-night trade. Over his career, Shamet is a 39.7 percent three-point shooter and will be a key contributor off the bench.
Moving back to Ayton, the Suns made the right decision. Ayton has not lived up to the No.1 draft pick position. He has been good for the Suns but has not been playing at quite that level. Last year, he averaged a career-low with 14.4 points per game.
Ayton succeeds in simple areas where he is replaceable, such as the pick and roll. With his style of play, you don’t pay him the max contract. He has also shown inconsistency throughout his career and that warrants concern for the Suns.
However, we did see the best of Ayton in the playoffs, until the finals. He was dominated by Giannis and became passive throughout the series. For him to get paid what he wants, Ayton has to develop his game outside of the pick and roll and get rid of his passivity.
If Ayton has a career year this season and showcases a lot of growth this season, then Phoenix could end up paying him that money. It is worth it then to see him expand his game and become a more well-rounded player. In this situation, it is worth waiting the extra year because Phoenix has the right to match deals and his birds right to where they can offer a five-year deal later down the line.
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