Ayton: ‘I’m locked in on getting better and starting training camp’

As of Tuesday, September 27, 2022


PHOENIX Suns’ Deandre Ayton, of The Bahamas, poses for a photo during an NBA basketball media day yesterday in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)


#Tribune Sports Reporter


#DEANDRE Ayton’s offseason contract situation and his role in his return to the Phoenix Suns were one of several highlights from the team’s media day.

#Following a lengthy restricted free agency process, Ayton officially inked a four-year, $133 million contract in July to return to the Suns.

#“I was happy, It was all done…I guess,” Ayton said. “I’m locked in on getting better and starting training camp.”

#Ayton, a highly coveted restricted free agent target, signed a maximum offer sheet on July 14 with the Indiana Pacers and within moments, the Suns matched the offer to retain the no.1 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft.

#During the negotiation process, Ayton said that he continued to work on his improvements on the floor while his team handled the business side of professional basketball.

#“I was under a rock just working. I was leaving all that in my agent’s hands and trusting my team. Why look back? I don’t want to take steps back, I just want to move forward,” he said.


From left; Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, head coach Monty Williams, Mikal Bridges and Chris Paul pose for a photo with team photographer Barry Gossage during an NBA basketball media day, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

#“No weight, no pressure, just trying to do the best at what my task is and let the rest take place. Just trust my team to do what they had to do to put me in the situation where I’m at now.”

#In his fourth season, the 24-year-old centre averaged 17.2 points on a career high 63 percent from the field and 10.2 rebounds per game in 58 appearances.

#“Relentlessness,” he said when asked what he hopes to bring to the table in the upcoming season.

#“Being that player I always wanted to be since I got drafted. I’m older now, there’s no more taking baby steps, it’s just going out and taking what’s yours…I’ve been working on everything. I’m just trying to be the most dominant person right now and I feel like I can do that.”

#He recorded both his 3,000th career point and his 2,000th career rebound this past season, becoming the second-fastest player to reach these milestones in a Suns uniform behind only Charles Barkley.

#The Suns finished with an NBA best and new franchise record of 64-18. The no.1 overall seed in the Western Conference, they were upset in the second round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.

#Despite the setback, Ayton said the focus of the roster remains the same, the chase for the franchise’s first NBA title.

#“Being prepared, making sure I’m in shape, bringing energy and mental focus, I think that will set the tone and everybody should follow,” he said.

#“Just being around the guys, all of us being in the gym playing against each other and just feeling that energy in this environment, it’s still the same, nothing’s changed. We’re a lot older now to where there’s no more baby steps, we know the task at hand so there’s really not much talk.”

#There was much speculation on the relationship between Ayton and the Suns’ head coach Monty Williams.

#Ayton appeared in only 17 minutes of the Suns’ 123-90 elimination loss to the Dallas Mavericks in game seven of the Western Conference semifinals. He finished with just five points, four rebounds and two assists. Williams told reporters postgame that Ayton’s limited playing time was the result of an “internal” decision and did not expand on the matter.

#Headed into this season, Williams said his offence will find more inventive ways to get other playmakers like Ayton involved and take advantage of his skillset. “I wouldn’t say there’s a total remake of what we do I think there are some wrinkles in what we do that will allow for some of his talents to show more,“ Williams said.

#“It’s not just a scoring thing, I think one of the things I did not do a good job of last year was for allow other guys to grow in their ability to initiate offence which takes a lot of pressure off Chris [Paul], which allows for him to be fresher.

#“So yeah I think there are some wrinkles that we are certainly going to explore to try to take advantage of DA’s ability to score in the mid-range, taking threes from the top of the key, corner threes, those are things that I have watched him work on this summer and we certainly have talked about it this summer.”

#Phoenix will open the preseason at home on October 2 when they host the Adelaide 36ers of Australia’s National Basketball League and will follow with their first NBA competition when they travel to California to face the Los Angeles Lakers on October 5.

#Phoenix will open the 2022-23 regular season at home against the Dallas Mavericks on October 19. For the second consecutive season, the Suns will be featured in a franchise record tying 34 nationally televised games.

#A total of 22 games will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN or TNT, with an additional 12 on NBATV.


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