Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul joined ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on First Take Wednesday morning to provide his thoughts on a range of topics, including Deandre Ayton’s contract negotiations, which have stalled as of late.
Following a breakout 2020-21 in which Ayton averaged 14.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks, the third-year center is eligible for a rookie scale maximum contract extension. However, with fewer than two weeks remaining for both sides to reach an agreement before the deadline of the 2021-22 regular season, he’s yet to receive one.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Phoenix is reluctant to offer Ayton the max, while he “has no intention of accepting a deal less than the comparable max contracts that several of his 2018 NBA Draft classmates signed, including Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr.”
Paul, entering his 17th NBA season, recognizes such occurrences are merely the way of the land, but does not anticipate this current impasse jeopardizing Ayton’s tenure as a Sun.
“I’m not concerned, that’s the business of the game,” Paul said. “Those contract talks happen as players, agents, all that stuff. We got Mikal Bridges, another guy who’s a big part of our team (eligible for an extension), so hopefully that stuff will take care of itself, so we can get back to playing and doing what we do.”
The deadline for Ayton and the Suns to agree on an extension is Oct. 18. Should the two sides fail to figure out a new contract, Ayton will hit restricted free agency next summer.