Ayton’s unenthused answer shows Suns are unsettled


The Phoenix Suns brought back center DeAndre Ayton this summer after they matched a contract offer from the Indiana Pacers. But based on his answer at the Suns’ media day, he might not be thrilled to be back in Phoenix.

Ayton was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. But despite leading the Phoenix Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals, the Suns declined to offer him a maximum rookie-scale extension when he became eligible for one last summer. They also didn’t sign him to a deal when he was a restricted free agent this summer, waiting until the Pacers signed him to an offer sheet for four years and $133M to match it.

There were signs of discontent between the Suns and Ayton, who averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds last season as his team led the NBA with 64 wins, the most in franchise history. But in the Suns’ blowout Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round, Ayton was benched early in the second half and played just 17 minutes. Coach Monty Williams gave a cryptic answer for why he sat his 6-foot-11 center.

ESPN ran a story that same week about how Ayton spent hours every day playing video games, perhaps not a good indicator of the player’s dedication to basketball.

It’s just one more problem for the Suns, who are reportedly “in shock” after the news about owner Robert Sarver’s misbehavior and suspension. 

Williams said, “When I saw the (commissioner’s) report, I was not happy about it, quite frankly, disgusted.” 

Jae Crowder, their starting power forward, is sitting out training camp as the team attempts to trade him. 

Rarely has a 64-win team seemed this bummed out in September, but the Suns have three weeks to pull it together before opening their season on Oct. 19 against Dallas.

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