Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton said he hasn’t spoken to head coach Monty Williams since he was benched during a stunning Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last May.
Ayton had a tense summer with the Suns, signing a four-year, $133 million deal with the Indiana Pacers before Phoenix agreed to his limited free-agent rights.
“I haven’t spoken to him at all since the game,” Ayton told reporters Tuesday after the first practice session of the season. “I can show him better than I can tell him. It is the life. No one cares about the uncomfortable nature of it, it depends on how you go about it and what you bring to the table. What has been said has already been said.”
Ayton has been training at the Suns facility for weeks ahead of training camp, but Williams said he made a conscious decision to leave the players a little alone this summer to give them space.
“I think 1-on-1s are always needed between guys I’ve been with for a while,” Williams said. “Some guys need it and some don’t. I’ll find out as the season progresses. I’ll talk to everyone like I always do during camp and it won’t be a problem at all.”
Ayton has been succinct in his comments to the media about his feelings over the past two days over the course of contract talks. He’s made it clear that he intends to take a matter-of-fact approach to the season and didn’t have a more typically upbeat attitude.
“When I’m between those lines, man, I’m working,” Ayton said. “I know I’m not playing for myself. I have an organization on my chest and a name on my back to represent, I’m just here to work.”
The Suns, who topped the seeding list with 64 games won last season, were eliminated by the Mavs with a 33-point loss on their home field. Ayton only played 17 minutes in the game. When asked why, Williams only said it was an “internal” matter.
At a team dinner Monday night, Williams addressed the loss with the team.
“So much was made of Game 7, but we addressed that as a team last night,” Williams said. “I put it to bed last night.”
On Monday, Williams said he believes Ayton can put any ongoing problems behind him.
“He’s just too good a player and he’s a good guy,” Williams said. “Sometimes you bump heads on certain issues, but that doesn’t define a person as a whole. And I think sometimes these things just get exaggerated, and rightly so, when you don’t have all the facts.”
Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 58 games last season.
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34679145/suns-deandre-ayton-says-spoken-coach-monty-williams-game-7-benching Suns’ Deandre Ayton says he hasn’t spoken to coach Monty Williams since Game 7 benching