Too Good to be True
There’s an old saying that when something is too good to be true, it usually is. This was my response when the Indiana Pacers weren’t able to acquire DeAndre Ayton from the Phoenix Suns. In the ensuing weeks, the talk and rumors about the Pacers landing in him in a sign-and-trade, which is what I was hoping for, and I’ll discuss that in a little bit, started heating up.
Last week, the Pacers finally made their move and signed Ayton to an offer sheet, which was what I didn’t want because I had a feeling Phoenix was going to match it. This wouldn’t have been a problem if they were able to get him in a sign-and-trade. Sure enough, about three hours after they signed him to an offer sheet, the Suns matched it.
Now that everything has unfolded, a part of me thinks perhaps Ayton and his crew used Indiana to get a better deal from Phoenix. All of this talk about not being happy with his role, issues not getting a new contract, and the alleged issues he had with head coach Monty Williams has suddenly subsided. Although I can’t say that I blame Phoenix for matching it. A talent like Ayton, particularly from the position Ayton plays is hard to come by.
Now, you have people will sneak in the fact that they passed up on Luka Doncic. Yes, we have seen the “superstar” — I’m really beginning to hate that word — that Luka has become, however, Ayton has had a successful career in the NBA as well, averaging a double-double every year of his career. Although I think he’s in the top five at his position, still I think he can be better than what he is, but herein lies the problem: while accomplishing the aforementioned, he’s the third option at best on the team, and to me, he has no business being the third option with his talent and upside. At the least he should be behind Devin Booker as one of the go-to options.
In Indiana, he probably would’ve been the go-to guy. Speaking of which, I saw a post from DeadSpin that was basically saying that he wouldn’t been Indiana’s “savior”, and I thought, “Ummmm…nobody said he was going to be Indiana’s savior.” I do think he would’ve made a young, talented team better, and would’ve had a better opportunity to fully showcase what he can really do.
Another thing the article questioned— I’m paraphrasing, here — was how would the Pacers improve with Ayton when they had a double-double, a triple double on some nights, guy in Domantas Sabonis. Well, I can answer that question. Sabonis isn’t the defender or rim protector that Ayton is. That would’ve made a huge difference.
This brings me to the Pacers current center, Myles Turner. I like Myles Turner’s game, but I think Ayton would’ve been an upgrade. He plays on both ends, and while he’s not as athletic as Myles, and Myles has more range on his jump shot, he does just about everything Myles can do, and he’s better scorer and a more consistent rebounder, an area where the Pacers are seriously lacking, and I think he would’ve helped them the most.
Being a small market team, it’s already difficult for Indiana to bring in someone of Ayton’s caliber, but they gave it a shot. I know some owners put a lot of pressure on their executive staff to get a deal like this done or else, but I think Kevin Pritchard (the Pacers’ VP of Basketball Operations) did what he could. It was just too good to be true.