Unless, of course, Ayton signs the qualifying offer — a one-year deal worth, in Ayton’s case, $16.4M that would make him an unrestricted free agent free to sign anywhere in the summer of 2023.
The Suns made Ayton prove his worth by not giving him an extension last offseason. Ayton could flip the script and make Phoenix prove itself a worthy home for the next four years of his career.
Given the way things ended — a 40-point deficit in a Game 7 loss on their own home floor, with Ayton watching from the sidelines while his team flailed helplessly — it’s fair to wonder if things have fractured beyond repair, and if so, there might not be a better fit in all of basketball than Ayton to the Spurs.
Magic need to follow Hornets’ footsteps
When the Charlotte Hornets found a franchise player in LaMelo Ball at pick No. 3 in the 2020 NBA draft, the first thing they did was go out and sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year deal.
Which is exactly what the Orlando Magic, winners of Tuesday’s draft lottery and new owners of the No. 1 overall pick, need to do — not sign the oft-injured Hayward but a player of his stature to signal to both their young players and their fan base that the time for losing has come to an end.
Injuries derailed the Hayward deal (and who possibly could have seen that coming?), but the move still served its purpose. With a franchise handing the keys to kingdom over to Ball, the Hayward signing showed their superstar talent that this team is all-in on winning – and winning now.
The Magic need to strike while the iron is hot and declare their rebuild via youth movement officially over. The way to do that is by packaging some of their ancillary pieces in a deal for a B-level star to support the franchise player they’re set to take in June.©2022 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.