Much has been written on this very site about the biggest problem entering the season for the Phoenix Suns: When will Ayton be extended? We have words on the site from Rod Argent, Dave King, Jeff Gallimore, and Trevor Booth on the subject all within the last week alone following ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting on the matter. Today, the frustration from Ayton himself came to a head.
Following a practice session a day ahead of the final preseason game, Ayton had this to say in response to a question from AZCentral’s Duane Rankin:
“I love Phoenix, but I’m really disappointed that we haven’t really gotten a deal done yet. I mean we were two games away from a championship, and I just wanted to be respected to be honest. Just be respected like my peers are being respected by their teams.”
Here’s the whole video thanks to Duane.
Deandre Ayton addresses contract talks, saying he's "disappointed" a deal hasn't gotten done and he wants to be respected like his peers as ESPN reported last week contract talks were stalled over getting rookie max extension. #Suns pic.twitter.com/XVtj06fojN— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) October 12, 2021
Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. received his max extension on Sep. 27 worth up to $207 million over five years, which is likely the reason behind Ayton pointing to his peers already getting their due respect, along with Dallas’s Luka Doncic, Atlanta’s Trae Young, and Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all receiving max extensions as well.
Rankin asked a follow-up regarding Ayton’s confidence that a deal will get done before the Oct. 18 deadline:
“I don’t know, I just let them [his agents, Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management and Nima Namakian of Innovate Sports] handle it in the most professional way possible and control what I can control… At the same time there’s a job to be done and that’s to come in and win games.”
Suns owner Robert Sarver is at a fork in the road. One road is presenting him with a golden opportunity to come out and prove to the world that he’s a changed owner who’s willing to spend the necessary resources to foster an environment that’s conducive to championship contention. The other road would have the basketball world thinking that he’s the same old Bob Sarver that kept the 7 Seconds or Less era from reaching their full potential.
Sarver has a matter of days before Oct. 18 to decide which road he wants to take for himself, for his former no. 1 overall draft pick, and for his organization that’s on the brink of glory.