The Phoenix Suns have made their move on Deandre Ayton but such is no assurance that they can keep the top pick of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Per reports, the Suns have tendered a $16.4 million qualifying offer to the 23-year-old big man. This means that Ayton will become a restricted free agent by July 1.

Looking ahead, the 6-foot-11 cager can now sign offer sheets that may come his way. Once in, the Suns have the option to match those offers. Failure to do so would see Ayton leave Phoenix since joining the team in 2018.

Alternatively, the Suns could resort to a possible sign-and-trade scenario. Under that scenario, the Suns could work out a sign-and-trade deal instead of going through the offer sheet route in restricted free agency.

Ayton owns NBA career averages of 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 236 games in the four years he has played for Phoenix.

Last season, he normed 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 58 regular-season games.

Regardless, his efficiency has been suspect. Veteran Chris Paul has made Ayton look good but pundits feel that the 23-year-old has plenty more to show.

Tied to that, there are concerns about whether Ayton could thrive with a new team and under a new system. He would need to be paired with a good point guard for his potential to flourish.

Staying with the Suns will also depend on how Ayton’s relationship with head coach Monty Williams is coming along. Both had that altercation in the playoffs, an incident that led most to speculate that a parting of ways is coming.

For now, the move of the Suns will overshadow that incident. But with a busy offseason ahead and teams trying to take in key players, Ayton could be among those in the limelight – especially for teams investing in young big men to boost their chances for the 2022-23 NBA wars.

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns Getty Images | Christian Petersen

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