Restricted free agent (RFA) center Deandre Ayton has agreed to a maximum four-year, $133million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday.
Ayton’s current team, the Phoenix Suns, will have 48 hours to decide whether to match the offer – the largest RFA offer in league history – or allow him to leave without compensation.
The top overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton has developed into a core player on a Suns team that reached the 2021 NBA Finals and led the league with 64 wins this past season. The soon-to-be 24-year-old is one of nine players to average 15 points and 10 rebounds per game over the last four seasons (minimum 200 games played over that span).
Ayton’s future in Phoenix had come into question, however, after he was benched for much of the second half of the Suns’ Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. Reports also surfaced that the Suns were reluctant to offer the Arizona product a maximum extension after just giving All-Star Devin Booker a four-year, $224 million supermax deal.
The Pacers are waiving guard Duane Washington and waiving and stretching the three players who arrived in the Boston trade for Malcolm Brogdon: Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and Nik Stauskas, sources tell ESPN. That'll create the cap space to sign Ayton to the max offer sheet.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 14, 2022
By agreeing to the offer sheet, Ayton has greatly restricted the possible avenues in which he could have left the Suns. He is now unable to be included in sign-and-trade deals this off-season, and if Phoenix decide to match – which they are expected to do – they will not be able to trade Ayton until January 15.
The Suns would also not be allowed to trade Ayton to the Pacers for at least a year, and Ayton would have the ability to veto any trade in the first year of the contract.
The previous largest offer sheet in NBA history was a four-year, $107m deal offered to former Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. by the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. The Wizards ultimately matched the offer.
In 236 career regular-season games, Ayton has averaged 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 59.9 percent from the field.
For comparison, the Dallas Mavericks selected Luka Doncic two picks after the Suns selected Ayton in the 2018 draft, and have since rewarded him with a five-year, $215m max extension.