As the 6 p.m. ET contract extension deadline approached for the 2018 Draft class, many of the biggest names had already gotten taken care of, with Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr., Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Michael Porter Jr., and Mikal Bridges all getting extensions done this offseason.
However, one significant name is missing from that list, as the top overall pick, Suns center Deandre Ayton, entered Monday without a deal done and little in the way of positivity that something would get done. Ayton had expressed his frustration with the situation, as he thinks he’s done more than enough to justify being given the max that Young, Doncic, SGA, and MPJ have all gotten, coming off a Finals run where he was a key contributor in the middle.
Any hope that after the Bridges deal got done, the Suns would get serious about Ayton was snuffed out on Monday afternoon when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that talks had ended with Phoenix refusing to put that max deal on the table.
ESPN Sources: Suns talks with Deandre Ayton on rookie extension have ended — without a deal. Ayton expected max contract and owner Robert Sarver hasn’t offered it. More coming on consequences for failing to reach deal with 2018 No. 1 overall pick. NBA Today debut, ESPN2. Now.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 18, 2021
It’s a disappointing way for the Suns to start the season given all of the positivity coming off of a Finals run where Ayton stepped up in a major way down the stretch and in the postseason. There’s still an incredibly high chance that he signs long-term this coming summer with the Suns matching what will likely be a max offer he gets from another team. However, it’s more about the messaging towards a young core piece, and what feels like a step back in terms of the culture they have worked so hard in building recently.