Basketball: Suns match Pacers' US$133 million offer sheet to Ayton

The offer clears the way for Deandre Ayton to stay with the Phoenix Suns. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The Suns matched the Indiana Pacers' four-year, US$133 million (S$186.8 million) offer sheet for Deandre Ayton, clearing the way for the restricted free agent to stay in Phoenix, ESPN reported on Thursday (July 14).

Citing Ayton's agents, ESPN reported that the Suns, who had until Saturday to match the offer Indiana made on Thursday, responded immediately to retain the services of the No. 1 pick in the 2018 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft.

The offer sheet from the Pacers was the largest in NBA history, surpassing the four-year, US$107 million offer signed by Otto Porter Jr with the Brooklyn Nets in 2016 - one offer the Washington Wizards opted to match.

The deal appears to complicate any possibility that Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant might end up in Phoenix via a trade.

Durant, a two-time NBA champion and 2014 Most Valuable Player, sent shock waves through the league on June 30 with reports he had requested a trade, with Phoenix and Miami reportedly his preferred destinations.

Now, however, no pre-season deal for Durant could include Ayton, who teamed up last year with Chris Paul and Devin Booker to lead Phoenix to the best regular-season record in the league of 64-18.

They Suns fell in seven games to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Having matched the Pacers' offer sheet, the Suns can't trade Ayton until January 15, and they can't trade him for a full year without his consent.

Ayton, 23, averaged 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds while helping anchor Phoenix's defence during their run to the 2021 NBA Finals and he averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds last season.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.