The Indiana Pacers, as one of the few NBA squads with significant salary cap space, could be on the verge of attempting to acquire Phoenix Suns restricted free agent Deandre Ayton.
Whether that’s via extending an offer sheet or working with Phoenix on a sign-and-trade is anyone’s guess.
Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported last Wednesday there were talks of Indiana offering Ayton. Gambadoro said Sunday night that the Pacers’ trade of Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics hit a few transactional snags and could not yet officially move on offering Ayton something close to a max contract.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said the same Monday morning on Get Up!, adding that it’s not known whether the Pacers and Suns have a sign-and-trade in the works or if Indiana would send Ayton an offer sheet. Windhorst said that there could be movement on the Pacers-Ayton front as early as Monday.
The Pacers, as of now, are several million dollars short of being able to offer Ayton a max deal, and that could hurt their ability to force the Suns’ hand. Phoenix can match Indiana’s offer sheet but as last offseason showed was not willing to go into max money to extend Ayton’s contract.
A sign-and-trade would make it easier for a max deal to get done, as the Suns can sign Ayton to a max deal as-is before trading him to the Pacers.
What would come back to Phoenix in such an exchange depends on whether any sign-and-trade is linked to the Suns’ larger ambitions of perhaps landing Kevin Durant. Regardless of that potential blockbuster, Pacers center Myles Turner is a possible inclusion in any deal, as he has been brought up in reports since the February trade deadline.
Turner will make $18 million in 2022-23 before becoming a free agent.
Indiana’s interest in Ayton dates back to February, when there were talks between the Pacers and Suns involving Domantas Sabonis and Ayton, according to Gambadoro.