Deandre Ayton discusses free agency process and extension with Suns

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Former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton officially signed a four-year, $133 million extension to return to the Suns on Monday, calling the new deal “a blessing” that can have a “generational impact” on him and his family.

“It’s a blessing,” Ayton told ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. Countryside during a telephone interview after signing his contract. “This contract not only has a generational impact for my family, but also with the way we can work in the Phoenix community and home in the Bahamas. These are the things we follow…

“I realized it was a business. So I was more anxious to know the end result so I could focus, move on, and get back to work. I treated everything like a business. Just continue to be professional, approach everything professionally, and don’t look too far ahead.

The dotted-line signing ended a weeks-long rollercoaster ride for Ayton, who was officially eligible to land a five-year, $179.6 million contract on July 1. The Suns didn’t offer that amount and waited until the Pacers offered the 23-year-old contract. -old center a four-year, $133 million maximum offer sheet on July 12, which he promptly signed.

The Suns had until the end of the day on July 14 to match the largest offer sheet in NBA history, but ended up matching the contract as soon as they received it.

“We wanted Deandre here,” Suns general manager Jones said. Countryside. “He is essential to what we do, at the heart of everything we do. And throughout this whole process, it was, it rang true. We wanted to keep him here, and as soon as we come to an agreement, we will. So waiting 24 hours, 48 ​​hours, that wasn’t something we had to do because walking in there we knew that was where he wanted to be and where we wanted him to be.

“I’m the type to be direct. And if you’re convicted, if you know what you want to do, you do it. But if there’s any doubt on anyone’s part that we wanted it, I think it was the pairing that did it. It was urgent for us. It was important. It was critical for us. So we just wanted to make sure we get our stuff done quickly.

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Ayton, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, averaged a double-double for the fourth straight season during the 2021-22 campaign and helped Phoenix to 64 wins and the No. 1 in the Western Conference. Since entering the league, the Bahamas native has averaged 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds, proving to be a centerpiece for a Suns team that made it to the 2021 NBA Finals.

Despite last season’s success in the regular season, Phoenix stumbled early in the playoffs, falling to Dallas in seven games in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. The series culminated in a crushing home loss in Game 7, in which Ayton was benched for most of the second half after falling out with head coach Monty Williams.

However, Ayton and the rest of the Suns are ready to move on from last year’s low point and are well positioned to do so. Following the center expansion, Phoenix’s core of Ayton, All-Stars Chris Paul and Devin Booker, and All-Defensive First-Team selection Mikal Bridges are locked in for at least the 2024-25 season. .

“I’m happy. The process is over,” Ayton said, according to Spears. “I’ve put all of that behind me and I’m focused on chasing a championship this season with my brothers.”

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