Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton said he hasn’t spoken with head coach Monty Williams since he was benched during a stunning Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in May.
Ayton had a tense summer with the Suns, signing a four-year, $133 million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers before Phoenix matched using his restricted free agent rights.
“I haven’t spoken to him at all, ever since the game,” Ayton told reporters after the first practice of the season on Tuesday. “I can show him better than I can tell him. It’s life. Nobody cares about the uncomfortable nature of it, it’s how you perform and what you bring to the table. What’s said is already said.”
Ayton worked out at the Suns facility for weeks leading up to training camp, but Williams said he purposely decided to leave players alone a little this summer to give them space.
“I think 1-on-1s are always needed between guys I’ve been around for awhile,” Williams said. “Some guys need it and some guys don’t. I’ll identify that as the season progresses. I’ll talk to everybody as I always do during camp and it won’t be an issue at all.”
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Ayton has been terse in his comments to the media about his feelings over the last two days about how the contract discussions played out. He’s made it clear he intends to take a business-like approach to the season and hasn’t had his more typical jovial attitude.
“When I’m in between those lines, man, I work,” Ayton said. “I know I’m not playing for myself. I have an organization across my chest and a name on my back I have to represent, I’m just here to work.”
The Suns, the top seed after winning 64 games last season, were eliminated by the Mavs in a 33-point defeat on their home floor. Ayton played only 17 minutes in the game. At the time when asked why, Williams only said it was an “internal” matter.
At a team dinner on Monday night, Williams addressed the loss with the team.
“So much has been made of Game 7 but we addressed that last night as a team,” Williams said. “I put it to bed last night.”
On Monday, Williams said he believed Ayton could put any lingering issues behind him.
“He’s just too good of a player, and he’s a good dude,” Williams said. “There’s times where you bump heads on certain issues, but that doesn’t define a person in totality. And I think sometimes that stuff just gets blown out of proportion and rightfully so, when you don’t know all the facts.”
Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 58 games last season.
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