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NBA

Suns HC Monty Williams cites ‘internal’ reason for not playing Deandre Ayton

With the fallout of their loss to the Mavericks in full affect, the Suns head coach may have opened a can of worms with his comments about why his center didn’t get more playing time.

Paul Rudder
Update:
Why didn't the Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton get more minutes against the Dallas Mavericks when they lost in Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals?
Mark J. RebilasUSA TODAY Sports

As the Suns crashed out of the playoffs in unexpectedly brutal fashion, there was one curious thing to note and that was the situation surrounding Deandre Ayton’s minutes or lack there of.

Suns coach Monty Williams talks Deandre Ayton

When the final buzzer went on Sunday night and Game 7 between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks was over, the scoreboard read 123-90. To put that into perspective, that 33-point loss was the worst defeat by a home team in a Game 7 since the now non existent St. Louis Bombers managed a 39 point collapse way back in 1948. Needless to say there are now a mass amount of questions being asked along with criticism from all sides. Yet perhaps one of the more peculiar things about the loss in Phoenix was the prolonged absence of center Deandre Ayton across the game. Ayton who saw a series low 17 minutes of game time on the night managed just five points and four rebounds.

When compared with the rest of the Suns’ starters who all play more than 30 minutes each, it begs the question, ‘Why?’ Which brings us to the answer provided in the post game press conference by Suns head coach Monty Williams. Asked directly about the lack of playing time that Ayton faced and Williams cryptically replied, “it’s internal.” Williams was then asked to give further detail on his comment which he refused to do.

Suns’ Devin Booker adds fuel to the fire

The Suns coach most definitely started some head scratching with his comment about Ayton, but when star guard Devin Booker was asked about his teammate, the three time All-Star definitely didn’t deflate the situation in anyway with his response. “His contract situation is between him and the front office,” Booker said. “I care about him as a brother. Just making sure his mental is right...whatever happens, happens. Kind of hard to look so far in the future.” Where Ayton himself is concerned, he did not give comment after the game so for the moment we remain in the dark. Expect to hear his side in the coming days, however, as there will surely be a number of ‘exit interviews.’

What’s the situation with Deandre Ayton?

While it’s hard to say with certainty what will happen between the Suns and Ayton at this point, there is one thing that we can assume: Deandre Ayton’s future with the Phoenix Suns is on shaky ground. Consider these three factors for a moment. We have the fact that the Suns just ended their post season in a disastrous manner, then there are Booker’s comments about Ayton’s contract and finally we have the reality that the player himself is actually set to become a restricted free agent this summer. In all we start to see a picture that doesn’t have Ayton in it. Last but not least we should also recall that Ayton and the franchise were at a stand off just last year, when the two sides failed to negotiate an extension. According to reports at the time Ayton was angry with the franchise after it declined to offer a full max deal estimated to be worth $172.5 million over five years.

What happens now between the Suns and Deandre Ayton?

Given all that we just reviewed, the most likely scenario here would appear to be that Deandre Ayton will be plying his trade elsewhere next season. It’s clear that Ayton would like a max deal and as a restricted free agent that’s exactly what he will be looking to secure. Where the Suns are concerned, they can more than likely match any offer which means they will probably opt for a sign and trade deal rather than letting Ayton go scotch free. Of course there is also the possibility that this moment is simply based in the the raw feelings that are surely being felt by the Suns after their Game 7 defeat. Could the Suns eventually offer a long term deal to their center? Maybe, but rest assured there will be more twists and turns in this story before it comes to an end.

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