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Suns match Pacers' $133M offer for C Deandre Ayton

Suns match Pacers' $133M offer for C Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton now can't be traded until January and must approve any trade terms over the next year. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

July 15 (UPI) -- The Phoenix Suns matched the Indiana Pacers' $133 million offer sheet for Deandre Ayton, locking in the star center's return for the 2023 season.

Sources told ESPN, The Athletic and the Arizona Republic on Thursday about the Suns' decision to match the four-year offer. The Suns had until late Saturday to match the priciest offer sheet in NBA history.

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Ayton, 23, joined the Suns out of Arizona as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 58 starts last season.

The Suns led the NBA with 64-regular season wins. Ayton was mysteriously benched for most of the second half in the Suns' final game this postseason, a Game 7 blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. After that game, coach Monty Williams called that decision "internal."

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Ayton, a 2018-19 All-Rookie team member, scored a career-high 18.2 points and logged 11.5 rebounds per game in 38 appearances in his second season. He posted 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in 69 starts in 2020-21.

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The agreement with the restricted free agent means he now can't be traded until Jan. 15 and can veto any trade for a year. Ayton had been involved in reports about the Suns' interest in a potential trade for Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, a move which is now likely impossible this off-season.

The NBA 2K23 Summer League will run through Sunday in Paradise, Nev. The Suns will face the Sacramento Kings at 7 p.m. EDT Friday on NBA TV.

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