Deandre Ayton contract extension headlines Suns offseason: Free agents, contracts, draft picks entering 2022-23 NBA season

Sports

The season has come to an end sooner than expected for the Suns.

The Suns steamrolled their way to the best record in the NBA during the regular season, winning a franchise-best 64 games. Then, they ran into some problems.

In the first round of the playoffs, Phoenix dealt with an injury to Devin Booker and was pushed to six games by New Orleans. It seemed as though the Suns were back on track when they took a 2-0 lead over the Mavericks in the second round, but Dallas responded by winning four of five to force a Game 7.

In Game 7, the Suns had their worst game of the season by far, losing in a shocking wire-to-wire fashion. Phoenix trailed by as much as 46 points in the game and their star trio of Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton combined for just 26 points.

After that stunning loss, an important offseason now awaits the Suns.

All salary figures are from Spotrac.

Suns upcoming free agents

The most notable Sun entering free agency this offseason is Deandre Ayton.

The No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns will have an opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs with another team.

Aaron Holiday and Ishmail Wainright will join Ayton in restricted free agency while JaVale McGee, Elfrid Payton and Bismack Biyombo will each be unrestricted free agents.

The Suns have no team or player options.

Unrestricted free agents Restricted free agents Player option Team option
JaVale McGee Deandre Ayton None None
Elfrid Payton Aaron Holiday    
Bismack Biyombo Ishmail Wainright    

Suns future salaries, roster

Booker and Chris Paul are under contract for at least two more seasons.

Mikal Bridges is entering the first season of the four-year, $90 million extension he signed in 2021.

Jae Crowder has one more season remaining on his current contract.

Player 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25 2025-26 2026-27
Devin Booker $33.8 million $36.0 million UFA
Chris Paul $28.4 million $30.8 million $30.0 million (NG) UFA
Mikal Bridges $21.0 million $21.7 million $23.3 million $24.9 million UFA
Jae Crowder $10.2 million UFA
Landry Shamet $9.5 million $10.3 million $11.0 million (NG) $11.8 million (TO) UFA
Dario Saric $9.2 million UFA
Cameron Payne $6.0 million $6.5 million (NG) UFA
Cameron Johnson $5.9 million RFA
Torrey Craig $5.1 million UFA

TO = Team option

NG = Non-guaranteed

RFA = Restricted free agency

UFA = Unrestricted free agency

Suns 2022 NBA Draft picks

The Suns do not own a pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Oklahoma City owns Phoenix’s first-round pick (No. 30) while Indiana owns its second-round pick (No. 58).

One burning question

The Suns won’t let Deandre Ayton leave … right?

Ayton had an opportunity to sign an extension with the Suns prior to the 2021-22 season, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, Ayton held his ground on wanting a five-year, max contract that would’ve guaranteed him $172.5 million. However, talks “never progressed” and the Suns never made him a formal offer, not even on a shorter-term deal.

What happens next? Ayton has a couple of options.

  1. Go the restricted free agent route. As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Ayton is free to sign an offer sheet with any team in the league. The kicker is the Suns will have an opportunity to match any contract he does sign to bring him back.
  2. Sign the qualifying offer. Ayton has a $16.4 million qualifying offer for the 2022-23 season. If he decides to sign that instead of an offer sheet, he would return to the Suns for one more season and then be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, which would allow him to sign with any team of his choosing.

Ayton hasn’t reached the heights that Luka Doncic and Trae Young have since being drafted, but he’s developed into one of the league’s better centers. Through four seasons, he’s averaged a double-double of 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game on 59.9 percent shooting from the field. His blocks were down this season, but he’s an effective rim protector who is also quick and agile enough to defend outside of his position.

More importantly, Ayton has proven to be a key piece of the Suns. He fills in the gaps offensively with his rim-running and cutting, and he’s anchored one of the best defenses in the league over the past two seasons.

If the Suns aren’t willing to pay handsomely for his two-way play, another team likely is.

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