Suns match Pacers' NBA-record offer sheet for Ayton
The Suns have matched the Indiana Pacers' NBA-record four-year, $133-million offer sheet for Deandre Ayton, ensuring the star big man will remain in Phoenix, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Phoenix reportedly matched Indiana's contract for the restricted free agent as soon as the team received it.
The 23-year-old now can't be traded without his approval for a full calendar year. Phoenix had previously been linked to Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant, with Ayton as a potential trade chip.
To help clear the cap space that would've been needed to acquire the former No. 1 pick, the Pacers waived and stretched Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, and Nik Stauskas, while waiving guard Duane Washington outright, according to Wojnarowski.
Indiana will still have its cap space frozen until the big man completes a physical with the Suns, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks.
Ayton became a restricted free agent after talks with the Suns regarding a long-term extension fell flat prior to last season.
He averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 boards while shooting a career-best 63.4% from the field last season. Ayton returns to a deadly Suns lineup that owned the NBA's best regular-season record in 2021-22 and features star guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
The Pacers still have starting big man Myles Turner to fill out their lineup, but the two-time blocks leader remains a potential trade chip with his deal set to expire next year.
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