In professional sports, we often hear players go public with requests for a new contract, rather than just letting their performance on the court or field speak for themselves. But that’s not how Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton is handling his contract situation with the Suns. All Ayton has done over the past two years is up his game and upped his game even further in the postseason.
For the second year in a row, Ayton improved his numbers in a few key statistical categories from the regular season through the postseason. In the 2020-21 season, Ayton averaged 14.4 ppg and increased that to 15.8 ppg in the playoffs. This season he has averaged 17.2 ppg and in the playoffs so far, Ayton has averaged 21.1 ppg. Ayton also improved his field goal percentage significantly from 63 percent during the regular season to 68 percent in the Suns’ first seven playoff games.
So what’s the problem? Why wasn’t DeAndre granted the contract extension he deserved? Only Suns owner Robert Sarver can answer that question, but he hasn’t been cheap when it comes to the team. It’s not like Sarver refused to pay someone to sign a new contract. In fact, more than one Phoenix Suns player has received an extension in the past year Ayton is forced waiting. With the accusations Given the misogyny and racism rampant in the organization, one would think Sarver would want to remain on the good side of his fan base.
Three Suns roleplayers received big paydays just before the start of the season. Cam Payne, Mikal Bridgesand Landry Shamet All signed new deals with Phoenix before the start of the season. And Ayton keeps waiting. While there’s an argument for how important Bridges is to this Suns team’s success compared to Ayton, there’s no way I’m buying Payne or Shamet on the same level.
It was Ayton and Sarver spotted together a week before the start of the season at a meeting at an Arizona resort to discuss a new deal. Nothing came of that meeting, of course, and Ayton went into the season without extra time. After meeting Sarver, Ayton addressed the Phoenix media and expressed how “disappointed” he was that a deal didn’t go through.
These contract negotiations can be a bitter subject for any fan base. The longer they drag on, the worse it gets. This summer, Ayton is a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns can match any offer from another team. In the year 2005, Joe Johnson asked the Suns not to participate an offer from the Atlanta Hawks, and that’s how Iso Joe came about. Not exactly the same circumstances, but like Ayton, Johnson didn’t feel he was getting the respect he deserved from the team. So he freaked out.
So while Ayton will be paid this summer, it won’t be maximum extension he could have received if the two sides had reached a long-term agreement last fall. Or maybe another team sneaks in and makes Ayton an offer for his services he won’t refuse. years later, Sarver opened up about Johnson’s contract situation in 2005 and regretted letting him go. So I don’t think we’re going to see the same thing with Ayton. But we also know that history usually repeats itself. We’ll soon find out if Sarver is doomed to repeat it.