Suns’ Jones: We are excited to keep Deandre(Ayton) at home in the Valley where he belongs

The Phoenix Suns have re-signed center Deandre Ayton to a multi-year contract, the team announced Monday.

According to reports, Ayton, who was a restricted free agent, signed a four-year, $133 million offer sheet(largest offer sheet in league history) with the Indiana Pacers, which the Suns later matched. 

“Deandre is a force on both ends of the floor, who has elevated his game every year and will continue to do so,” said General Manager James Jones said via press release from team. “DA is so important to what we do, and without him, we could not have reached our recent levels of success. We are excited to keep Deandre at home in the Valley where he belongs.”

Ayton (6-11, 250 pounds) is coming off the 2021-22 season in which he averaged 17.2 points on a career-high and franchise-record 63.4% shooting plus 10.2 rebounds, ranking in the NBA’s top ten in both field goal percentage and rebounds per game for the second consecutive season. He recorded his 3,000th career point and 2,000th career rebound this past season, becoming the second-fastest player to reach these milestones in a Suns uniform behind only Charles Barkley.

“I’m happy to put free agency behind me and ready to work and compete for a championship with my teammates,” said Ayton via press release from team.

Through his first four NBA seasons, Ayton holds career averages of 16.3 points on 59.9% shooting from the field plus 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 236 games with the Suns. His 59.9% field goal percentage is the highest by a player averaging a double-double through four seasons in NBA history. He joins Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players to average a double-double on at least 57% shooting through four career seasons. 

The 23-year-old Ayton has appeared in 35 postseason games with the Suns over the last two seasons, averaging 16.6 points on 65.1% from the field and 10.7 rebounds in those games, the only player ever to average at least 15 points, and 10 rebounds on over 60% shooting through his first 35 career postseason games. He was pivotal during the Suns’ run to the NBA Finals in 2021, averaging 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds, with his 65.8% marking the highest field goal percentage by a player in a single postseason in NBA history (min. 100 FGM), breaking a record previously set by James Worthy in 1985.

The first No. 1 overall pick in Suns’ history, Ayton was the top selection in the 2018 NBA Draft after one season at the University of Arizona. A native of Nassau, Bahamas, he became the first No. 1 pick in NBA history to be selected by a team in the same state where he played basketball in high school (Phoenix’s Hillcrest Prep) and college. 

Phoenix had no choice but to bring back Deandre Ayton

On Thursday, restricted free agent C Deandre Ayton signed a four-year, $133 million offer sheet(largest offer sheet in league history) with the Indiana Pacers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

However, later in the day, Wojnarowski reported that the Suns would match the offer and retain Ayton.

The fourth-year center cannot be traded before January 15 and can’t be dealt without his permission for one year.

Last season, Ayton averaged a double-double for the fourth straight season, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. Unfortunately, the Suns, who had the best record in the NBA, fell to the Mavs in seven games in the Western Conference semifinals. In that seventh game against the Mavs, where the Suns were routed 123-90 by Dallas, Ayton scored only five points in 17 minutes of action. 

The 23-year-old was removed in the the third and did not return. Ayton appeared to have some words with Suns coach Monty Williams. After the game, when asked about Ayton, Williams said, “It’s internal.” To this point, Ayton has not addressed the situation. 

The Suns could not afford to let Ayton go without any compensation; that would have been very bad, especially when you consider Chris Paul is 37 and Devin Booker is in his prime, so Phoenix had no choice but to match the offer for Ayton.

At this point, Phoenix seemingly doesn’t have the assets to get Kevin Durant, who requested a trade and reportedly had the Suns on his list of teams he was willing to play for next season, but again, any deal with Ayton can’t be executed until January, so it appears at this point, Phoenix will be running back the team that won a league-high 64 games, which means they will have a championship contending team.

Will it be enough?

It hasn’t been the last two seasons, but they have been close. Hopefully, for them, Ayton continues to ascend, Booker continues to play like a star, and Paul continues to get the job done and stay healthy. However, the world-champion Warriors will be just as good and possibly better with the addition of James Wiseman(missed all of last season), the Clippers will have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard back; the Nuggets will have a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr to go along with MVP Nikola Jokic; LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the Lakers should be healthy, and Luka Doncic and the Mavs will be tough; it won’t be easy for Phoenix, but getting Ayton back sure helps.

Suns’ Monty Williams talks Deandre Ayton

Before the start of the regular season, Suns center Deandre Ayton was hoping to get a max extension from the Phoenix Suns. However, the two sides could not agree on a contract.

The former number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft played well this season. Like his previous three seasons in the league, Ayton averaged a double-double with 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, including a career-high 63% shooting.

This season, Ayton had some big moments, including scoring a playoff career-high 28 points against the Pelicans in the first round, but things ended sourly for the four-year veteran.

In Game 7, Ayton, like the rest of his teammates, struggled against the Mavericks. In 17 minutes of action, he had five points and four rebounds. After the 123-90 loss to the Mavs that eliminated Phoenix from the playoffs, Suns head coach Monty Williams was asked why Ayton played only 17 minutes, and his response, “It’s internal.”

On Monday, at his end-of-the-season Zoom call, Williams elaborated a little more on Ayton’s situation. According to Williams, he has not spoken to Ayton individually and explained part of the reason he removed Ayton from the game for good with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.

“You guys know me well enough; I’m going to do everything I can to help us win games,” he said. “And at that point, with the lead where it was, I made a decision not to put him back in the game.”

At season’s end, the 6-11 Ayton will be a restricted free agent, and Williams said the team would figure out Ayton’s contract situation in the next couple of months.

“Deandre’s situation is something that we’ll deal with this summer,” Williams said. “I don’t want to say anything in regards to that.”

Ayton is one of the better centers in basketball, but you do wonder if he’s worth a max contract, especially after what may have transpired in Game 7 between him and Williams, which reportedly was an exchange of words as Ayton returned to the bench. 

However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there will be teams willing to give Ayton a max deal, so it appears if the Suns don’t pay him, somebody will.

At age 23, Ayton is still improving. He’s improved his shot and has been a walking double-double since entering the league. Based on what happened with the Suns this season and them not winning a title, there might not be a justification to pay Ayton, which means he could be elsewhere next season.

Watch below as Williams discussing Ayton and more.

Mavs’ Doncic on loss to Suns: ‘I think our defense lost us the game tonight’

Luka Doncic did his job in the Dallas Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals Monday night. Doncic had 45 points(one short of playoff career-high), 12 rebounds, and eight assists.

However, that was overshadowed by Deandre Ayton’s(12/20 FG) 25 points and eight rebounds and Devin Booker’s 23 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as the Suns had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Phoenix would lead from start to finish and defeat the Mavericks 121-114 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Phoenix.

The Suns, who led by as many as 21 points in this one, have defeated the Mavs 10 straight times(regular season and playoffs combined).

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd liked what Doncic did, but according to him, Doncic needed more help.

“He got whatever he wanted,” Kidd said after the loss. “When you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also he got his teammates some great looks that we normally have made, I thought he played great. We didn’t play him the whole game. Again, in the fourth quarter, those guys started to get a rhythm and played harder, but I thought he played great.”

After three quarters, the Suns scored 96 points. In addition, they finished the game shooting 51% from the field. Doncic felt the team’s defense lost Game 1.

“I think our defense lost us the game tonight,” Doncic said. “I think our start on the defensive end was terrible, and we’ve got to change that. I know we can play way better defense, and I know we will.”

The Suns came out with a lot of energy in this one, and they used their size to punish the Mavs on the glass as they outrebounded Dallas 51-36. Against the Jazz, Dallas was able to take advantage of Rudy Gobert because he could not hurt them on the offensive end. However, Ayton can and did hurt the Mavs, which Booker discussed postgame.

“He’s a beast down there, and he proves it night-in and night-out,” Booker said of Ayton. “That’s what teams try to go to verses us, just have five guards out there and switch it one through five, and that’s his time to punish them.”

The Mavs clearly have had a hard time defeating the Suns as they haven’t beaten Phoenix since 2019. The Suns have the their number, but there’s hope. Dallas lost Game 1 to the Jazz last round and won four of the next five games in that series.

However, Dallas must be better defensively and get a little more from other players not named Luka Doncic. 

Notes:

-Shooting 51% in the win, Phoenix has now shot 50+ FG% in all seven of their playoff games this postseason. The seven consecutive games shooting 50+ FG% is a franchise postseason record.

-Chris Paul totaled 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting tonight, to go along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. With this third assist tonight, Paul passed Tony Parker for fifth on the NBA’s all-time playoff assists list.

-Maxi Kleber added 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting tonight in 25 minutes off the bench for Dallas. Kleber knocked down a game-high five three- pointers on eight attempts in the game.

 

 

Suns’ Ayton on Paul’s performance in Game 1 vs. Pelicans: ‘Man, that is the CP3 Show’

Great players do great things in the playoffs, and Chris Paul is a great player, and Sunday night in Game 1 of Phoenix’s first-round series against the Pelicans, that greatness was on full display.

Phoenix led 53-34 at the break, but the Pelicans outscored the Suns 37-25 in the third quarter and had some momentum going into the fourth, but then, the “CP3 Show” commenced.

The 12-time All-Star scored 19 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to go along with seven rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals as the Suns defeated the Pelicans 110-99 at Footprint Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

At age 37, Paul became the oldest player to record 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. 

“Man, that is the CP3 Show,” Deandre Ayton said postgame. ‘We got a little taste of it.’

“Classic Chris,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. 

With Phoenix leading 80-73, Paul scored or assisted 19 straight points for the Suns to take complete control of the game. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Paul became the fifth player with ten career playoff games of 30 points and 10 assists, joining LeBron James (22), Michael Jordan (15), Jerry West (14), and Oscar Robertson (12)

“It’s just reading the game,” Paul said. “We watch games all day, every day. We got to watch all the games yesterday. We watched the games today. We know in the playoffs, teams aren’t going to lay down.”

Williams had more praise for his point guard.

“He’s not only a great point guard, but he’s a great basketball player,” Williams said.

After making the Finals last season, the goal for the Suns is an NBA title. Barring anything unforeseen, the Pelicans can’t defeat Phoenix. So, in reality, to avoid injuries, the Suns have to sweep this series to play as few games as possible as they look to win an NBA title.

Suns’ Paul: ‘I’m grateful to be here with this group’

On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns killed two birds with one stone in their 121-110 win over the Lakers. Phoenix eliminated the Lakers from playoff contention, and more importantly, the Suns picked up their 63rd win of the season, setting the franchise record for wins in a season.

The previous record of 62 wins occurred during the 1992-93 and 2004-05 seasons. 

Suns head coach Monty Williams, who became the head man in 2019, helped spearhead the turnaround. Phoenix went from losing 63 games in the 2018-19 season to winning 63 games and possibly more this season.

“It started with the young guys we had that first year, the bubble, last year, and then the individual stuff that we’ve seen guys achieve along the way, and then tonight is unbelievably special for so many people,” Williams said post-game. 

“Not just the organization, but the people in the city that have basically birthed the Suns. Everywhere I go, people talk about the Suns are their baby, and to have us playing this way, achieving this goal tonight is huge for the valley. It’s hard to put it into words, but we’re all pretty grateful, and we talk about celebrating everything, and there’s just so many people that have a huge part in this, from the players, who are the main cogs in it all, but in particular, ownership, James (Jones), but also people like Jay Gaspar and Denise Romero, who just have grown up in this organization and it’s special to see them excited about what we’re doing.”

Maybe the biggest reason for the turnaround in Phoenix was the acquisition of Chris Paul. None of this happens without CP3. Paul also became the first player in NBA history to be a part of four teams that set franchise records for wins, but for the 12-time All-Star, who helped lead the Phoenix to the NBA Finals last season, it’s all about winning a title.

“It’s all good and well,” Paul said. “It would be nice to put a championship with all that. That’s the goal; that’s what we’re working towards. I don’t take that lightly, though, because it’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of hard work that goes into year-in and year-out playing and competing. At the end of the day, you want to have a chance. You at least want to have a chance, and I’m grateful to be here with this group.”

Deandre Ayton was there for the 19-63 season, and he, like everybody else on the Suns, is happy to get to 63 wins.

“Me and Mikal (Bridges) were looking at each other four years ago, bro; we were at the bottom pit of the barrel,” Ayton said. “We almost thought we weren’t a part of the league. For a minute, I thought we were playing people to play us my rookie year, the way that we were losing. We here, man, and seeing all the fans and the community just so happy, just so supportive, all that helps.”

Winning 63 games is all well and good, but the Suns have to cap it off with a championship!

Suns’ Ayton: ‘I feel like I should thank the NBA for gifting me with a Christmas gift of playing on Christmas Day’

The Phoenix Suns continued their winning ways Thursday night as they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-101 at Footprint Center.

Devin Booker scored a game-high 30 points, 15 of which came in the third quarter, to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists.

The Suns(26-5) extended their winning streak to five games, and also extended their home winning streak to 15.

After trailing by five in the third, Phoenix used a 28-10 run to take complete control of the game, and OKC never threatened after that. 

Now, it’s onto their big Christmas Day showdown against the Warriors(26-6) at Footprint Center. The last time the Suns played on Christmas Day was back in 2009.

Many of Phoenix’s players have not experienced Christmas Day basketball, including Deandre Ayton and Cam Johnson, and both are super excited.

“I’m not going to lie, I feel like I should thank the NBA for gifting me with a Christmas gift of playing on Christmas Day,” Ayton, who added 19 points and 12 rebounds against OKC, said. “A lot of guys that aren’t playing on Christmas are going to be opening their gifts, probably working out, probably getting ready for the next game, but me, I got kids waking up to go see Deandre and the Phoenix Suns play. That’s an honor. You can’t take that for granted. Stuff like that is just hard work. People recognizing us, just winning and stuff like that, and this is the reward. We just have to be grateful and not take it for granted at all.”

Cam Johnson, who scored 21 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field, including a 5-of-5 from downtown against OKC, added: “I’ll be honest with you, I’m viewing it as my first time, ever in my life, playing a basketball game on Christmas—watched NBA games every Christmas since I was a little kid, just the opportunity to go and play in that game. I like the time of the game, 3 P.M.; I’m hoping it stays that way, we show up, get to it. It’s like a dream come true, playing on Christmas, getting out there, and I’m just super excited for that. Never mind whatever else might be going around, just excited to have that game.”

Phoenix is 1-1 against the Warriors this season, and both games had a playoff feel. According to Chris Paul, playing Golden State is a good test for the Suns.

“Playing against Golden State, they always make you think, playing against the Lakers, Milwaukee, all those good teams,” he said. “They’re going to make you think the game, so it’s always a good test for us because every team is different.”

Phoenix and Golden State are the two best teams in basketball, so Saturday’s game against the Warriors should be a lot of fun.

Watch below as Ayton talks win over OKC, playing Warriors on Christmas Day:

Suns’ Ayton: ‘I wanted to start a winning legacy in Phoenix’

The Phoenix Suns concluded the month of November the way it started, with a win. Led by Deandre Ayton’s 24 points and 11 rebounds and Chris Paul’s 15 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and five steals, Phoenix defeated the Warriors 104-96 Tuesday night at FootPrint Center.

The rematch is Friday at Chase Center.

With the win, the Suns extended their winning streak to a league-best 17 games, tying the franchise record for the longest winning streak.

“It’s cool, man, Paul said about the winning streak. “You sort of forget about it because we just be hooping. We prepare for every game the same way, and when you do that, it’s about building habits. Like I said, third team, I’ve been on that won 17 in a row, and it’s a really good feeling. To go the whole month without any losses, regardless of who was on the schedule, that’s tough to do.”

Phoenix was 16-0 in November, and the last time they lost was on October 27 against Sacramento. In addition, at 18-3, this is the team’s best start to the season through the first 21 games matching the 2004-05 season. Furthermore, the Suns moved to 10-0 this season when playing an opponent with a record above .500.

Ayton has been with Phoenix through the tough times, including winning 19 games in the 2018-19 season. Last season, the Suns went to the Finals, and now they are tied with the Warriors for the best record in basketball after 21 games, and Ayton wants to keep on winning.

“We wanted to turn this thing around since we got here,” he said. “I wanted a winning legacy; I wanted to start a winning legacy in Phoenix. I think I’ve been saying that the whole time being here. Just having thee great pieces around us, we just have some young guys that know how to play basketball, but at the same time, we’re willing to take that constructive criticism, and not take it personal, but learn. That season where we only won 19 games, it wasn’t really no disappointment, it was just a lesson learned; that we never want to get back to that ever again, and that’s what we’re showing.”

Unfortunately, going forward, Phoenix might be without the services of Devin Booker, who left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. According to head coach Monty Williams, they will find out more about Booker’s health Wednesday.

For now, they celebrate a big win and look to push their streak to 18 Thursday at home against the Pistons.

Suns’ Williams on Booker: ‘He likes to kill; That’s who he is’

The Phoenix Suns are rolling and playing some big-time basketball right now. That train rolled into Madison Square Garden on Friday night for a quick stop, they handled business, and now it’s off to Brooklyn as the Suns routed the Knicks 118-97 to win their 15th straight game. 

Phoenix(16-3) led New York(10-9) by as many as 17 points in the first half and had a 13-point halftime lead. The Suns dominated the second half and led by as many 22 points in the third and by as many as 24 points in the game.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Suns’ win over Knicks at MSG:

The Great for the Suns:

-Devin Booker loves New York, and he balled out on Friday night. Coming into this game, Book was averaging over 30 points and shooting over 50% a contest at MSG. On Friday, Booker had 21 of his 32 points in the first half on 14/27 from the field, including four threes. 

“A lot of guys say they want to play on this stage, [Booker] really does,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said post-game. “He likes to kill. That’s who he is.”

-Chris Paul was his usual self. Paul, who is leading the NBA in assists per game, had his second straight double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. The Point Gawd just knows how to play the point guard position at an elite level. Paul got everyone involved as Phoenix had seven players in double figures.

-Deandre Ayton had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. This was Ayton’s third consecutive double-double.

Shooting: Phoenix shot 55% from the field against the Knicks, including 46% from downtown(13/28). The Suns have shot 50-plus percent from the field in five consecutive games and eight times on the season and are 8-0 in those games.

Defense: The Suns turned 16 Knick turnovers into 25 points. In addition, they held New York to 37% shooting from the floor. During their 15-game winning streak, Phoenix has held teams below 100 points seven times.

The Not So Great:

You win 15 straight; you dominate pretty much from start to finish. It’s all great for the Suns right now.

Bottom Line:

The Suns have everything clicking right now. They had seven players in double figures, including all five starters; their big three of Booker, Ayton, and Paul are playing well, and again, they have won 15 straight(second-longest in team history). It should be interesting to see if they can keep the streak alive and equal the franchise mark of 17 consecutive wins by the 2006-07 Suns, as they have the Nets and Warriors next. 

What’s Next:

Phoenix finishes off their four-game road trip in Brooklyn against the Nets.

Best of the Rest:

Kemba Walker led the Knicks with 17 points, and Immanuel Quickley had 16 points off the bench.

-Cam Payne had 12 points and six assists, and Cam Johnson added 10 points off Phoenix’s bench.

-The Suns have now won seven consecutive games over the Knicks, the longest winning streak over New York in franchise history.

Watch Below as Booker and Paul react to Suns’ win over Knicks:

Suns’ Crowder: ‘We have to get back to being the hunter instead of just being hunted’

The Phoenix Suns fell to 1-3 on this young season after losing to the Kings 110-107 at the buzzer on Wednesday night.

Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes hit a three at the buzzer to get the victory for the Kings. With the loss, the Suns fall to 0-2 at home. Last season, Phoenix lost only nine times in their building.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Suns’ loss to Kings.

The Great for the Suns:

-Devin Booker scored a game-high 31 points on Wednesday to go along with six rebounds and eight assists. It marked Booker’s 114th career 30+ point game, which ties for the 11th most 30+ point games in league history prior to a player’s 25th birthday. 

-Deandre Ayton notched his 96th career double-double, pouring in 21 points to go along with 21 rebounds, which matched his career-high. It marked Ayton’s second career game of 20+ points and 20+ rebounds.

-Mikal Bridges tallied 15 points, his fourth consecutive game of 10+ points, to go along with five rebounds and a team-high two blocks. It marks the first time in Bridges’ career that he’s scored 10+ points in each of the first four games to begin a season. 

Not So Great for the Suns:

-Chris Paul was 1/10 from the field and scored only six points, but he dished out eight assists.

Third-quarter: The Suns had a 61-53 lead at halftime, but they were outscored 29-15 in the third. Phoenix shot 7/22 from the field, including 0/6 from three-point range in the quarter. In addition, the Suns had six of their 11 turnovers in the third.

Bottom Line:

Teams will be gunning for the Western Conference. They will and do have a bullseye on their back. According to Jae Crowder, the Suns have to get back to being the hunter.

“We have to get back to being the hunter instead of just being hunted,” he said. “In each game, we talk about how teams are coming at us, and we’re stepping up the challenge, but not for 48 minutes. We have to find a way to take that challenge on for 48 minutes and quit talking when the game is over about how teams are coming, respecting us now, and we’re getting team’s best shots. We have to get back to being the hunter and stepping into the ring, and right now, we’re not.”

What’s next:

The Suns get back at it on Saturday night when they continue their five-game homestand against the Cavaliers

Best of the Rest:

Kings’ Buddy Hield knocked down a team-high seven three-pointers on 11 attempts in 27 minutes off the bench tonight en route to a team-high 26 points and five rebounds.

Barnes tallied 22 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.