The Suns could have offered Ayton a five-year deal paying $179.6 million on July 1, but did not. Instead, the “anxious” restricted free agent signed the four-year, $133 million max offer sheet with the Pacers on July 12. The Suns had until 11:59 ET on July 14 to match the largest offer sheet in NBA history, but ended up matching it as soon as they received it.
Phoenix general manager James Jones said he told Ayton through the entire free agency process that he planned to re-sign him, including during a videoconference on July 1. James also told ESPN’s Andscape that it was “important” and “critical” to match immediately.