How does DeAndre Ayton’s Contract affect the Sixers?

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 17: Phoenix Suns Center DeAndre Ayton (22) looks on during a NBA game between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers on December 17, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

After the NBA offseason hit a near stop, the wheels have started moving again as DeAndre Ayton reportedly agreed to a four-year, maximum offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers. The question is, though, how does this affect the Sixers?

At face value, DeAndre Ayton’s offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers doesn’t really affect the 76ers in any direct way. Sure, if Ayton ends up on the Pacers, that would mean another team planning to contend this season is getting worse, and sure the Pacers are in the East, but these aren’t the biggest needle movers for the Sixers’ championship aspirations this year. However, if Phoenix matches the offer sheet, something they should probably do, the Suns may look at trading expensive role players to get a lower luxury tax bill.

The Suns are spending a lot of money right now. Chris Paul and Devin Booker alone are making 62 million dollars. Now, with Ayton’s four-year 133 million dollar contract (average of 33.25 million per year), the Suns are going to be tying up over 90 million dollars in just three players. Add in Mikal Bridges‘ 21 million dollar contract, and the Suns will have well over 110 million dollars tied up in long-term contracts. This could lead the Suns to trade high-paid role players like Jae Crowder (10.183 million), Torrey Craig (5.1 million), Landry Shamet (9.5 million), and Cameron Payne (6 million).

For years now, the Sixers have had a generally sub-par bench unit. Each of these players were key for the Suns’ championship run and would be immediate upgrades to the bench. Cam Payne is a stable backup point guard who could help direct the bench unit. Landry Shamet is a former Sixer once referred to as a J.J. Reddick starter kit. Crowder and Craig are fantastic defensive-minded wings who can hit open shots. Each and every one of them would provide immediate upgrades to the Sixers’ roster and championship aspirations.

Another large benefit for the Sixers would be separating Tobias Harris and his massive contract into multiple players. This would benefit both the Sixers and the Suns, providing the Sixers more depth and better fitting pieces, while the Suns receive a near All-Star level player who is best as a third or fourth option. It also doesn’t hurt that his salary is high enough to match salaries with Kevin Durant, should the Nets do what KD wants and trade Durant to Phoenix. With Ayton under a fresh new contract and sign and trades no longer being allowed, Tobias and picks is the best chance Phoenix can have to convince the Nets to part with him.

No matter what ends up happening, when the Suns match DeAndre’s offer sheet from Indiana, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey should be sending calls over to the Suns front office as soon as possible. Finding a way to steal a solid 3&D wing player like Jae Crowder or Torrey Craig from Phoenix or a solid bench guard would be the cherry on top of this tremendous offseason for the Sixers, who would have a valuable bench piece with playoff experience.