James Jones spoke with Sam Amick of The Athletic on Monday, just a few hours after the Phoenix Suns were able to agree to an extension with Deandre Ayton. Ayton will become a restricted free agent during the 2022 offseason.
Jones contends that the Suns were open to discussing the possibility of a three- or four-year max and that it was only the designated rookie five-year max that was completely off the table.
"We didn't have real negotiations," Jones said.
That notion, however, was strongly disputed by Ayton's agents, Bill Duffy and Nima Namakian.
Teams cannot have more than two players on designated rookie max extension players on their team at any given time. Ayton's representatives were never told that by the Suns that was a consideration on why a five-year max wasn't offered.
"We know it's important to us; it's important to him that we continue to progress and we continue to develop and we win (a title)," said Jones. "So when we talked about a focus this offseason, it was to continue to build this team. So for us, unfortunately, we are where we are (with Ayton). No agreement. We didn't have real negotiations. You talk about conversations (with Ayton's representatives, Bill Duffy and Nima ) - it was five-year, max extension like the other peers, the other former No. 1 picks, and that's where the conversation started and ended. Anything less than a five-year max wasn't something to be considered - not something to talk about. It's evident. They talk about us having discussions on a three-year, four-year max (deals). Those are real."
Jones also contends that the perception that Robert Sarver is being frugal by not offering a five-year max to Ayton is misguided.
"It's inaccurate," said Jones If you just look at the moves we've made, it's inaccurate. It's just not (true). If you look at all the moves we've made, and the things we've done, from the practice facility to the roster itself to acquiring Chris Paul, going and acquiring Jae Crowder, extending the guys that we have, that's not accurate.
"When you boil this thing down, it's disappointing that we didn't get a deal done. It's disappointing that it was a five-year-rookie-max-or-bust, or nothing to talk about, and we just didn't have real substantial conversations. And that (idea that a) lack of a deal is a signal that we aren't committed to Deandre or interested in continuing, that we don't believe in him, that becomes the narrative. But it's the furthest from the truth."