The decision to not give a max contract extension to Deandre Ayton so far this offseason may linger with the Phoenix Suns into the 2021-22 season, according to ESPN NBA front office insider Bobby Marks.
Marks told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Tuesday that an extension may have already been done if the intent was there from the Suns organization.
“If (owner) Robert Sarver wanted to sign Deandre Ayton to a max contract, he would have done it in the first week or second week of August,” Marks said.
Ayton proved his worth throughout the 2021 NBA Playoffs. He defended key assignments in NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, All-Star forward Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers and eventual Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Throughout the playoffs, Ayton averaged 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds and shot 65.8% from the field.
Four members of his 2018 NBA Draft class have accepted max contract extensions this offseason: Denver’s Michael Porter Jr., Atlanta’s Trae Young, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dallas’ Luka Doncic.
Marks said not signing Ayton to an extension risks the issue becoming a talking point throughout the entire season.
“I think the one thing you don’t want to do also is have this hang over the organization all year, especially coming off getting to the Finals,” Marks said.
The possibility of paying a luxury tax in upcoming seasons may also be a role. Phoenix has not payed the luxury tax since the 2009-10 season.
Marks said that dealing with the luxury tax is part of the process when extending younger stars.
“That’s just the cost of business these days as far as when you retain your younger players that are due for these extensions or a new contract next year,” Marks said. “You’re going to be close or you’re going to be in the tax.”
Ayton will become a restricted free agent after the 2021-22 season if an extension is not agreed on by Oct. 18. Phoenix would be able to match any offers given to Ayton in restricted free agency.