Detroit Pistons: Deandre Ayton rumors heating up as season closes

Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (right) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (right) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

As the NBA season winds down, the rumors around Deandre Ayton and the Detroit Pistons are starting to heat up.

John Hollinger and James Edwards III of The Athletic (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED) recently talked about the big man, with Hollinger saying that it was “more likely than not” that Ayton will be on a new team by the end of the summer.

He also added:

"“I don’t think Phoenix is totally comfortable going forward with him on a big-money deal, and I think Ayton might be okay with going somewhere else if he can have a bigger offensive role.”"

One team that has plenty of money and a larger offensive role for Deandre Ayton is the Detroit Pistons, who will likely pursue him this offseason according to multiple reports.

The Suns refused to make a max offer to Ayton even though the former #1 pick has been a big part of their success in recent years.

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That left the door open for the Detroit Pistons, who have a couple of different ways to get Deandre Ayton from the Suns.

Detroit Pistons: The offer sheet vs. the sign-and-trade

Deandre Ayton will be a restricted free agent, so the Suns have the right to match or exceed any deal that he is offered.

Ideally, the Detroit Pistons could just make Ayton an offer for the max that the Suns refuse to match, clearing the way for him to join the Pistons.

However, the Suns will be reluctant to let him leave for nothing and Ayton might be reluctant to leave the extra money the Suns can offer on the table, so a sign-and-trade is also a possibility.

This would allow Ayton to get his max and for the Suns to get something from his departure.

Obviously, this would not be ideal for the Detroit Pistons, who would then be in a position to have to give up assets to get Ayton instead of just money. The flip side is that they would have Ayton locked up through most of his prime in a deal that might look like a bargain in a few seasons when the salary cap explodes, which is likely.

Teams rarely get close to equal value in sign-and-trades, so the Pistons would hope they could use the contracts of players like Kelly Olynyk and Cory Joseph rather than give up Jerami Grant in the trade, which is almost certainly what the Suns would want.

That scenario becomes more palatable for the Pistons if they choose a power forward in the 2022 NBA Draft, as they could then give up Grant knowing they have his replacement.

There are a lot of connected moves for the Detroit Pistons this offseason, and who they take in the NBA Draft will be the first domino to fall. If they get the right guy, expect a full-on pursuit of Ayton that will include everything from a max offer to a sign-and-trade for Jerami Grant.

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