Deandre Ayton

Hawks, Trae Young Agree To Five-Year Max Extension

AUGUST 3, 7:37am: Young’s extension will include an early termination option after the fourth year, according to RealGM (Twitter link). An ETO is similar to a player option, so Young will have the ability to opt out and sign a new deal in 2026.

AUGUST 2, 11:02pm: The Hawks and Young are in agreement on a five-year, maximum-salary extension, agent Omar Wilkes tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski pegs the projected value of Young’s deal at $207MM, which would mean a starting salary worth 30% of a $119MM cap in 2022/23. That suggests that Atlanta has indeed put Rose Rule language in the deal, but Young will still need to meet the criteria to earn that amount. If he fails to earn All-NBA honors next season, the extension would be worth a projected $172.55MM.

AUGUST 2, 3:59pm: The Hawks and star guard Trae Young are expected to finalize an agreement on a maximum-salary contract extension shortly after he becomes extension-eligible on Monday night, reports Jeff Schultz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The move had been widely expected, as Young has emerged as the cornerstone of a Hawks team that made a surprising Eastern Conference Finals run this season.

He averaged 25.3 PPG, 9.4 APG, and 3.9 RPG in 63 regular season games (33.7 MPG) in 2020/21, then helped lead Atlanta past the Knicks and Sixers in the first two rounds of the playoffs before suffering a foot injury in the Eastern Finals vs. Milwaukee.

Young remains under his rookie contract for one more season and will earn $8.33MM in 2021/22. His extension would go into effect in ’22/23.

The exact value of that deal would depend on where the cap lands for the 2022/23 season. However, a conservative estimate would result in a five-year deal of approximately $168MM.

That number could increase to about $201.5MM if the Hawks include Rose Rule language that would bump Young’s starting salary to 30% of the cap instead of 25%. However, he’d have to earn an All-NBA spot this coming season to trigger that increase.

Young is one of a number of young stars entering the final year of their respective rookie contracts who could receive a maximum-salary extension shortly after the NBA’s new league year begins.

Luka Doncic, who has already qualified for the 30% max, is in line to get a five-year extension, though it likely won’t be finalized until after the Olympics. Multiple reports have indicated the Thunder will likely lock up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to a max-salary extension, and Marc Stein identified Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) as other strong candidates for max extensions.

Pacific Notes: Ayton, K. Jones, Lakers, Warriors

Deandre Ayton, fresh off of his first NBA Finals appearance with the Suns, is eligible for a five-year, $168MM max contract that would kick in at the start of the 2022/23 season, and Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic takes a look at what could be next for the big man.

Ayton’s career lows in PPG and APG were a result more of the context of adding Chris Paul and reorganizing the offense, rather than any regression on Ayton’s end, Rankin writes. In fact, Ayton’s growth as a team-first player willing to do whatever it takes for the success of the Suns adds even more appeal for the club as it decides if it will offer him a max deal.

If sacrificing is leading the wins and where we are today, I’ll sacrifice everything, you know what I’m saying,” Ayton said. “Everything (Paul’s) told me has led up to here, so why stop now?

We have more news from the Pacific Division:

Pacific Notes: Booker, Ayton, Lakers, Draft

After falling 123-119 to the Bucks, the Suns find themselves on the brink of losing the 2021 NBA Finals. They have their sights squarely set on a must-win Game 6 on Tuesday. Mark Medina of USA Today opines that the club may be relying too much on the production of 24-year-old All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker.

“We know what Book can do with the ball, but the one thing we talked about was getting to the paint, finding guys on the back side,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said of the ball sticking with Booker. “We feel like that’s a formula.”

Medina contends that the Suns suffered due to their dependence on Booker to bail out possessions with isolation scoring.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Suns center Deandre Ayton – who has thrived during a breakout postseason, his first playoff appearance – welcomes the challenge of a must-win Game 6, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. “I like it. It’s fun; the tables are turned now,” Ayton said. “Now we’re the desperate team. We had our chances of being up and trying to finish the job, now we’re in the same position that they were in. They’re up, and now we got to go get it. That’s why it’s a little bit more fun.” The top pick in the 2018 draft, Ayton is eligible for a contract extension during the 2021 offseason. His recent play should earn him a maximum-salary offer or something close to it.
  • The Lakers, who own the No. 22 pick in the upcoming 2021 draft, hosted 6’5″ Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu and 6’4″ Tennessee guard Jaden Springer during their latest pre-draft workouts Saturday, per Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Both guards are good shooters who could help space the floor for L.A.
  • The Lakers need to land a win-now type of player in the 2021 draft with their No. 22 selection, opines Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Goon notes that the Lakers front office, under the stewardship of Rob Pelinka, last retained a first-round pick through the draft in 2018, when the club selected center Moritz Wagner out of Michigan — however, Wagner did not last long in L.A., having been sent to Washington in the Anthony Davis blockbuster. The team appears determined to add shooting this offseason — Los Angeles has examined versatile guard prospects and stretch forwards thus far.

Suns Notes: Paul, Booker, Ayton, Kaminsky, Game 3

The backcourt pairing of Chris Paul and Devin Booker has reached historic levels this season, particularly during the first two games of the NBA Finals, Gina Mizell of writes.

Paul and Booker have caused problems for the Bucks’ defense, combining to score a total of 59 points in Game 1 and 54 points in Game 2. The two stars are now just two wins away from securing an NBA championship for the first time in their respective careers.

“I’m having a hard enough time trying to figure out how to guard those two,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, who’s thrown a variety of defensive schemes at Phoenix thus far. “I can’t come up with a good comparison for you.”

There’s more out of Phoenix tonight:

  • Mark Medina of USA TODAY examines the special bond between Deandre Ayton and former NBA player Mychal Thompson as native Bahamians. “I tell him how proud I am of him and to keep going,” Thompson said of Ayton. “He’s the greatest player we’ve ever had from the Bahamas.” Ayton has welcomed the advice with open arms, averaging 16.2 points and 12.1 rebounds in 36.5 minutes per game in 18 playoff contests.
  • The Suns could benefit from Frank Kaminsky serving as a frontcourt X-factor the rest of the series, Dana Scott of the Arizona Republic writes. Phoenix is already playing without Dario Saric due to a torn ACL, making it imperative that Kaminsky is prepared to step into the rotation. “For me, my mentality this whole playoffs is just, ‘Stay ready,'” Kaminsky said before Game 2. “You never know what can happen. I’ve been ready, I’ve been putting the work in.”
  • The team is treating Sunday’s Game 3 as a must-win contest, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. With a win, Phoenix would take a commanding 3-0 lead heading into Game 4 on Wednesday. “For us, the biggest game of the year is tomorrow,” Paul said on Saturday. “Tomorrow. It’s a must-win game for us. We’ve got to come out with that mindset. Know that they’re home, they’re more comfortable, they will be in front of their fans, but we got to be us. We got to be us and we got to be the hungrier team, and so that’s what we’ll do.”

Suns Notes: Kaminsky, Craig, Nader, Bridges, Crowder, Ayton

Torrey Craig, Frank Kaminsky and Abdel Nader could all pick up minutes during the remainder of the Finals in the aftermath of Dario Saric‘s knee injury, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Saric suffered a torn ACL during the opening quarter of Game 1. Kaminsky played four minutes in Game 1 while Craig received 16 minutes of floor time. “Frank gives us quality size and playmaking ability,” coach Monty Williams said. “He’s smart.”

We have more on the Western Conference champions:

  • Mikal Bridges has developed into one of the league’s top 3-and-D wings, Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes. Bridges makes the team’s pick-and-roll offense lethal due to his cutting, screening and spot-up shooting. His ability to guard multiple positions is another underrated aspect of the team’s success, Buha adds. Bridges is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • Jae Crowder is another one of those top-level role players and ESPN’s Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the forward, who is appearing in his second straight Finals. Crowder has played an average of 31.7 MPG in the postseason despite modest offensive numbers. He scored just one point in Game 1 but was on the floor for 33 minutes. “You don’t even know what position Jae is,” Williams said. “But you know this: It becomes really hard to take him off the floor.”
  • Williams isn’t sure what Deandre Ayton‘s ceiling is but the coach wants his young center to focus on the present, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. “It’s important to embrace where he is and embrace the work that he has to do today,” Williams said.

Pacific Notes: Simmons, Wiseman, Green, Kerr

It’s unlikely the Kings could put together a trade package that would allow them to acquire Ben Simmons from the Sixers, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Philadelphia is seeking an All-Star caliber player for Simmons and Sacramento is unlikely to make Tyrese Haliburton or De’Aaron Fox available.

Ham speculates the Kings could try to package Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley and the No. 9 overall pick or Harrison Barnes, Bagley and the same pick and see if Philadelphia would be interested.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors can take their cue from the Suns in order to get the most out of James Wiseman, Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. Deandre Ayton is a major reason why Phoenix advanced to the Finals, mainly due to the fact he’s become a prolific rebounder while getting fewer touches on offense. The Warriors need their bigs to thrive near the rim and help them get extra possessions, and that should be Wiseman’s main focus, Andrews adds.
  • Suns assistant Willie Green is reportedly a candidate for all three remaining head coaching jobs around the league and Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic takes a closer look at how Green would fit in with the Wizards, Pelicans and Magic. Green isn’t in a rush to get a head coaching job. “It’s definitely a goal, but I don’t feel like a need to chase that goal,” he said.
  • With Draymond Green playing for Team USA and Steve Kerr on the coaching staff, the Warriors could reap long-term benefits by building relationships with star players that could eventually land in Golden State, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area speculates. The Olympics present a low-key method for franchises to recruit players, Poole adds.

Suns Notes: Paul, Ayton, Booker, Nader

Although Chris Paul has put together a Hall of Fame career, there’s one significant thing missing — he’s never been to the NBA Finals. The Suns are one victory away after defeating the Clippers Saturday night, and Paul’s teammates are determined to get him there, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and I’ve learned so much from him this year, and I always talk about off the court how he carries himself, and he’s just a true professional at every level at all times,” Devin Booker said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a man, not even as a basketball player, just understanding how bad he wants this and how much time he’s put into it … 16 years, that’s a long time.”

Paul has experienced a lot of playoff misfortune during his career, from numerous injuries to blown leads. The closest he came to playing for a title was in 2018 when the Rockets took a 3-2 advantage over the Warriors in the conference finals. Paul hurt his hamstring late in Game 5 and missed the rest of the series as Golden State rallied to win.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “Don’t dwell on things, you always remember, but I’m here now, excited about this opportunity, and all I can worry about right now is Game 5.”

There’s more on the Suns:

  • Center Deandre Ayton has been outstanding throughout the playoffs and seems well positioned to get a max extension this offseason, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Ayton is averaging 20.3 points and 13.5 rebounds in the four games against the Clippers and contributed 19 points, 22 rebounds, four blocks and three assists Saturday night. He credits the addition of Paul with unlocking his full potential, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “He was the best thing that happened to my career,” Ayton said.
  • Booker started wearing a mask after breaking his nose in Game 2, but he got rid of it in the third quarter Saturday night. He had a sub-par shooting game on Thursday, but told sportswriter Gina Mizell that the mask wasn’t the only reason (Twitter link). “I’m not blaming anything on the mask, but I haven’t played basketball with the mask ever in my life,” Booker said. “It takes some getting used to and, at that point in that time, I didn’t want it.”
  • Abdel Nader saw his first game action since March 21, playing 5:22 in Game 4. Nader, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in April and just received clearance to play, tweeted afterward about how good it felt to be back.

Suns Notes: Payne, Paul, Booker, Ayton

After turning in a couple big performances in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals – both Suns wins – Cameron Payne was forced to leave Game 3 on Thursday after playing just four minutes. The veteran point guard suffered a sprained left ankle, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes.

With Payne unavailable, the Suns leaned heavily on Chris Paul, who logged 39 minutes in his first game back after clearing the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Head coach Monty Williams admitted after the game that he didn’t plan to play Paul so much and that he’s hopeful Payne will be available for Game 4 on Saturday to back up the team’s All-NBA point guard.

“Not having Cam to spell Chris put us in a bit of a bind,” Williams said, per McMenamin. “So hopefully (Payne) can come back and play in the next game.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Paul, who spent eight days in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, said he got the bad news last week from Suns senior director of health and performance Brady Howe, according to McMenamin. “I was laying in bed with my kids and got a text from Brady,” Paul said. “It is what it is. I dealt with it. Anybody with kids, anytime you’re going through something, the hardest part is being away from your kids and your family. Once you get over the shock of what’s happening, to hell with how and why. You just start figuring out how you can get better.”
  • After breaking his nose in Game 2 of the Western Finals, Devin Booker received eight shots of a numbing agent and had his nose reset back into place prior to Game 3, says McMenamin. Booker had to wear a face mask in Game 3 and struggled mightily, making just 5-of-21 shots from the floor, but he said he wasn’t affected by the injury or the mask. “The nose feels fine,” Booker said. “We just lost the game.”
  • The Suns faced some criticism over the years for passing on Luka Doncic with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, but Deandre Ayton has developed into exactly what the team needed, according to Royce Young of ESPN. “He’s just turning into a really dominant player, on both ends of the floor,” Williams said of his center.

Pacific Notes: Ayton, Paul, Kings, Warriors

Suns center Deandre Ayton is playing in the Western Conference finals three years after being the first selection in the draft, but he tells Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated that most fans don’t see him as an elite player. Ayton had the highlight of his career Tuesday night when he dunked off an inbounds pass in the final second to give Phoenix a 2-0 series lead. It put him in the national spotlight after missing the playoffs during his first two NBA seasons.

“I still think they doubt me. I still think they don’t believe yet,” Ayton said. “I might be turning some heads with people that know basketball, like front-office types, and people that really know the game. I know I am probably stepping into the right direction. But I don’t think the world truly, truly sees that. But if I can win this whole thing, that is where I can get my reputation. That is where I can be a star.”

Although he has been effective since entering the league, Ayton has mostly been overshadowed — by Chris Paul and Devin Booker on the Suns and by Luka Doncic and Trae Young in his draft class. Ayton was suspended for 25 games during his second NBA season and has been criticized for a casual attitude, but he credits the arrival of coach Monty Williams and the success the team had after last year’s restart with turning that around.

“Winning was contagious and we added pieces like (Paul), Jae (Crowder), E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway and Torrey Craig,” Ayton said. “Those are guys who have been in the game and played at high levels like this. That is the best way I can think of how I turned my career into a positive one.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have listed Paul as probable for Thursday’s Game 3, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. Paul has missed the first two games of the series while in the league’s health and safety protocols, but he expects to receive clearance to play tomorrow.
  • The Kings need more help than the draft can provide, so they should be aggressive about trying to get Ben Simmons from the Sixers, contends Jason Jones of The Athletic. He suggests offering Buddy Hield or Marvin Bagley III along with the No. 9 pick.
  • The Warriors have two selections in this year’s lottery, and president of basketball operations Bob Myers won’t say if he plans to hold onto both of them, per Kendra Andrews of NBC Sports. Golden State already has one development project in center James Wiseman and may not have room for two rookies as it hopes to get back into title contention. “We’re not trying to develop players at the risk of losing,” Myers said. “We’re not going to develop and have it cost us games. That’s not the plan.”

Chris Paul Expected To Decline Player Option

Suns point guard Chris Paul intends to turn down his player option for the 2021/22 season in order to seek a new contract, multiple sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Opting out will make Paul an unrestricted free agent this summer.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2021/22]

The value of that ’21/22 option is $44.2MM, which is more than Paul has ever earned in a single season and would be one of the highest salaries in the NBA. A year or two ago, the 36-year-old was considered a virtual lock to pick up that option. But back-to-back All-Star seasons in Oklahoma City and Phoenix have buoyed his stock, putting him in position to secure one last multiyear deal.

Pincus suggests that Paul might be seeking a contract in the range of $100MM over three years. Essentially, he’d be taking the same route that Gordon Hayward did a year ago, or that Al Horford did in 2019 — turning down an option and accepting a slightly lesser short-term salary, but adding more years to his contract and substantially increasing the overall guarantee.

It’s possible that Paul’s plans could change between now and his decision deadline on August 1. Pincus notes that it’s unclear whether CP3’s recent shoulder injury might alter his thinking, for example.

However, even after re-injuring that right shoulder in Game 5, Paul seemed relatively “OK,” as head coach Monty Williams confirmed after Tuesday’s game (Twitter link via Gina Mizell). He’s listed as probable for Game 6 on Thursday night, and there’s no expectation he won’t play, so I imagine it would take a more serious injury for him to seriously consider changing course and picking up his option.

Given the success they’ve had with Paul this season, the Suns will almost certainly push to re-sign the veteran guard if and when he opts out. Phoenix has the cap flexibility to accommodate a new deal for CP3, though the club will face a number of major contract decisions this offseason and may be wary of tacking on too many years, with Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges up for extensions.

Multiple sources told Pincus they believe Ayton is worth the max, while Bridges could be in line for a salary in the range of $20MM per year.