Do the Detroit Pistons have Suns big Deandre Ayton on their free agent radar this summer?

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic
Nov 30, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) talks to center Deandre Ayton (22) against the Golden State Warriors at Footprint Center.

TORONTO — The Phoenix Suns play in Detroit on Sunday as part of their five-game road trip.

Will Little Caesars Arena be Deandre Ayton's new home next season?

Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus is reporting the Pistons may pursue Ayton in free agency this summer after the Suns failed to sign him to a rookie extension.  

Ayton wanted the five-year, $172-million max. How the contract talks unfolded is a he said, they said, but Pincus reports the Suns are expected to keep him in Phoenix.

Averaging 16.8 points on a career-best 63.1% shooting and 10.9 rebounds in the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, Ayton is on track to become a restricted free agent entering the off-season, which means any team will be able to make him an offer but the Suns can match it. 

The qualifying offer for Ayton as a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason is $16.4 million. The top pick in the 2018 draft, Ayton agreed to a four-year, $40.3-million deal after a one-and-done at Arizona.

"As noted, the Pistons are believed to be targeting a big man with their projected cap room this summer. Deandre Ayton may be their primary target, but many around the league expect the Phoenix Suns to retain him despite failing to reach an extension with him before the season." Pincus wrote.

Back in August 2021, ESPN projected Detroit, Orlando and San Antonio are expected to have a minimum of $30 million cap room in 2022.

Pairing Ayton with rookie Cade Cunningham, the top overall pick in the 2021 draft would give Detroit a serious 1-2 punch.

The Pistons have the NBA's second-worst record at 9-31 while the Suns have the league's best record at 31-9.

Snagging Ayton would certainly speed up the process of turning Detroit around, but Pincus sees the Suns keeping their big man in Phoenix.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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