The Phoenix Suns tip off their 2021-22 regular-season schedule against the Denver Nuggets at Footprint Center on Oct. 20.
And with the team coming off of a run to the NBA Finals for only the third time in league history, center Deandre Ayton’s contract situation has been a major discussion as the Valley’s oldest professional sports franchise seeks its first Larry O’Brien Trophy.
But Suns owner Robert Sarver was tight-lipped about the ongoing negotiations when asked about it on Wednesday.
“Well, I can’t blame you for asking, but as you know, we never discuss negotiations or personnel publicly,” Sarver told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo.
“It’s just not fair to the players. That wouldn’t be fair to (GM) James (Jones) or the fans, so I’m going to pass on that one.”
However, the owner and center reportedly met at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort on Monday night.
Sarver did say that he wants to eventually get a deal done and believes Jones is in continued discussions with Ayton’s agent.
“If we can get something that works for both sides, we definitely would,” Sarver said.
“As you know, in restricted free agency sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Getting a deal done a year early is a little bit more challenging than getting a deal done at the beginning of a season.”
After being drafted No. 1 overall out of Arizona in the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton can become a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
In restricted free agency, any team could match a non-max offer the Suns give Ayton to acquire the center’s services.
However, the biggest difference in restricted free agency is that the original team the player is on can offer the most money via a max contract.
And with the likes of Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr. — who were all selected after Ayton in the same draft class — already receiving max contract extensions with their respective teams, the Suns center has made it known he wants the same financial respect.
But the Suns owner doesn’t believe the uncertainty of the contract situation will hinder Phoenix’s chances of making another deep playoff run.
“I can’t speak for Deandre but I think he made his goals clear at media day in terms of what he wanted to try to accomplish this year and he’s had direct communications with our organization recently,” Sarver said. “He’s all in. I’m not concerned about that.”
Sarver did add that the team would be paying the luxury tax next season.