Pacers Expected To Either Execute A Sign-And-Trade For Deandre Ayton Or Offer Him A Near-Max Contract

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The Indiana Pacers are reportedly “very close” to giving Deandre Ayton an offer sheet or executing a sign-and-trade to land the 23-year-old big man, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

“We believe that the Indiana Pacers are very close to giving Deandre Ayton an offer sheet or executing a sign-and-trade…we would see something with the Pacers and Ayton as early as today,” Windhorst said on ESPN.

How might this impact the Kevin Durant to Phoenix deal? We’ll discuss how it still might look. It’s getting more complicated than we ever imagined.

The Pacers, financially, have $26.2 million of cap space to play with. That’s not enough to offer any restricted free agent a “max contract,” which would pay just north of $30 million a year. According to Ayton’s agent, the former no. 1 overall pick is still looking to receive that max offer sheet from a team that was turned down by Suns owner Robert Sarver earlier this year. That reluctance by ownership to lock up Ayton for the max eventually created a rift in the locker room that spiraled into a benching come playoff time. Now here we stand on the open market where any team that views 17.2 points per game with 10.2 rebounds worthy of being one of the highest-paid players on the team can throw Ayton their best offer.

The Suns said ‘no,’ while the Pacers are said to be intrigued. Two teams that apparently feel differently about paying centers top dollar in a league prioritizing wings and guards.

How a sign-and-trade would look

For the Suns, they still have control whether or not they lose Ayton to anyone because they can simply match any offer a team delivers this offseason. Doing so would surely destroy the Suns’ plans to acquire Kevin Durant in the short term, but Phoenix could still hang onto Ayton until January where he very well could be dealt. But even for Ayton, remaining patient and allowing the Suns to work a S&T is beneficial to him as it helps ensure the big man ends up with a team that wants him. Sure, Deandre Ayton might stay in Phoenix for top dollar, which was his goal just a few months back, but wouldn’t he rather move on AND get his money? Have to imagine the human nature of being wanted has to play a role.

So here’s who the Pacers might send:

Myles Turner is said to be on the block in Indiana. A rim-protecting center that is more of a “dirty work” type of player, and if this happened, it would mean the Suns have acquired a new asset that could then be flipped to Brooklyn for Kevin Durant.

No, Turner wouldn’t be the headliner going to the Nets — he’d be a sweetener that would likely include Suns forward Mikal Bridges, sharp shooter Cam Johnson and perhaps four or more first-round draft picks with pick-swaps. This trade between Indiana and Phoenix for Ayton could be just what the doctor ordered to get the ‘KD to Phoenix’ ball rolling.

A three-team deal is likely the only path the Suns have to muster up an offer juicy enough for the Nets to bite. All this might go down in the next 24 hours…we’ll keep you guys posted.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr

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