The Pacers just put the Suns on the clock.
Restricted free agent Deandre Ayton has agreed to sign a record-setting offer sheet with Indiana, his agents, Bill Duffy and Nima Namakian, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday.
Phoenix now has three options: Match the offer sheet, figure out a sign-and-trade deal or let Ayton walk.
What are the terms of the offer sheet? Here’s what we know about the deal that could bring the talented center to Indiana.
MORE: Details of potential Donovan Mitchell trade between Knicks, Jazz
Deandre Ayton contract details
Ayton and the Pacers have reached an agreement on a four-year, $133 million maximum offer sheet. That is the largest offer sheet in NBA history, surpassing the four-year, $106.5 million deal that Otto Porter signed in 2017.
It’s worth noting that the Pacers currently do not have the cap space to reach Ayton’s annual salary. It shouldn’t be difficult to open up the necessary space, though, as Indiana can remove some money from its books without losing a key player.
Indiana has to clear out $4.7M in cap space to reach $30.9M in salary.
Several mechanisms to do that including waiving the non-guaranteed contract of Duane Washington and using the stretch provision on several players, including Malik Fitts.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 14, 2022
What Deandre Ayton’s offer sheet means for Suns
Phoenix previously made it clear that the franchise doesn’t feel Ayton belongs in the same tier as Luka Doncic, Trae Young and other max extension candidates from the 2018 NBA Draft class, so the initial assumption was that the Suns would discuss the framework of a sign-and-trade deal with the Pacers.
However, Phoenix is expected to match the offer sheet once it is officially signed, per Wojnarowski, as the Suns haven’t “shown any interest in negotiating a sign-and-trade.” (If the Suns do match, Ayton would hold veto power on any trade for a year.)
It would be an unusual path back to Phoenix for Ayton, but the Suns simply can’t afford to lose Ayton for nothing. Perhaps their plan is to keep Ayton and pursue another trade during the 2022-23 season. They could also keep Ayton, have a conversation about the future and realize the best-case scenario is the 23-year-old staying in Phoenix.