The Indiana Pacers may have secured their big man of the future.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton agreed to a 4-year, $133 million offer sheet with the team on Thursday (July 14). The Phoenix Suns have 48 hours to match the deal to keep Ayton or let him go with nothing in return compensation.
The $133 million offer sheet is the largest in NBA history, surpassing the 4-year, $107 million deal Otto Porter signed with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. The Washington Wizards ultimately matched Porter’s deal, eventually leading to him getting traded to the Bulls in 2019 and the Magic in 2021.
Ayton’s deal also denies Phoenix the option to trade him via a sign and trade and hampers their chances of landing Kevin Durant. If Phoenix agrees to match the contract, Ayton couldn’t be traded from Phoenix until January 15, 2023, and couldn’t be traded to Indiana until the 2023-24 league year.
Ayton was drafted No. 1 in 2018, ahead of Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Marvin Bagley III, and Jaren Jackson Jr., among others. After being selected to the All-Rookie team following his freshman campaign, he blossomed into a quality starting center as the Suns began their rise to the top of the Western Conference.
He averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in the 2021-22 season, one where the Suns finished with the best record in the NBA but were unceremoniously bounced in the second round of the NBA Playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks. In their Game 7 defeat, Suns head coach Monty Williams explained it was an “internal” decision as to why Ayton mostly watched the second half from the bench.
The Pacers have been reshaping their roster since the end of last season, trading away Damontas Sabonis and focusing on youth. In this year’s NBA Draft. In June, they drafted Bennedict Mathurin from Arizona with the sixth overall pick and then dealt Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics earlier this month.