Unusually low-key Deandre Ayton addresses Robert Sarver, contract and upcoming Phoenix Suns season

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic
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Deandre Ayton has always displayed a wide range of emotions.

Sometimes serious, sometimes silly, but he's usually upbeat.

Not Monday.

The Suns center was low key for him at the team's media day at Events on Jackson, leaving many to interpret what it meant.

Is it Robert Sarver and the 10-month investigation that ended with him being suspended a year, fined $10 million for "'workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies" and later deciding to sell the Suns and WNBA's Phoenix Mercury?

"At the end of the day, the actions are unacceptable," said Ayton, who played high school ball in Phoenix after being born in the Bahamas. "My thoughts go out to all the people that were affected by his actions."  

Is it the offseason that finally ended with the Suns matching Indiana's offer sheet for Ayton, at four years, $133 million?

Is he just coming into camp more intense and ready to take his game to another level?

Could be all of those things.

What is certain is Ayton wasn't his usual upbeat self when answering questions Monday.

Suns center Deandre Ayton speaks during a press conference on media day at Events on Jackson in Phoenix on Sept. 26, 2022.

Ayton had an eventful offseason after Phoenix lost Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals to Dallas. While Phoenix's historic season came to a crushing end, Ayton's sideline interaction with Suns coach Monty Williams became the focal point of the loss.

Then he entered free agency as a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns could match any offer from another team.

Indiana took a plunge with a max offer sheet the Suns quickly matched.

Somers: Suns strike right tone in answering questions about Sarver

May 2, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and center Deandre Ayton (22) react after a fast-break basket against the Dallas Mavericks during game one of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Footprint Center.

"I'm excited for him," All-Star Devin Booker said. "That's a weight lifted off his shoulders. You understand that this isn't just basketball. It comes down to business at some point. The only way you can learn and understand those situations is if you're in them. I think he learned a lot. I think both sides learned a lot. He got his money, he got his max and now he can just go out there and just play and not have to think about it." 

Ayton didn't have much to say about that.

"I was happy it was all done," said Ayton, who later talked about having trust in his agents, or "his team" as he put, it to handle the contract negotiations. 

After that, Ayton re-established his relationship with Williams.

"I think when players know that you want them around and value them, it gives them confidence," Williams said. "That doesn't mean you don't have situations that come up. That's just part of coaching and part of being on a really good team with competitive players."

'No bad blood': Cam Johnson supports teammate Jae Crowder's decision

May 10, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona; USA; Suns head coach Monty Williams greets Deandre Ayton (22) as he subs him off during game 5 of the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.

Williams said he always felt Ayton would be around, saying the top overall pick in the 2018 draft is "too good of a player and he's a good dude." 

In closing, Williams said, "There are times where we bump heads on certain issues, but that doesn't define a person in totality. I think sometimes that stuff gets blown out of proportion and rightfully so when you don't know all the facts." 

Now Ayton's looking forward to playing a bigger role this season with Phoenix.

"Everything," said Ayton when asked what is he looking forward to showing this season. "I've been working on everything. Yeah. Just trying to be the most dominant person and I feel I can do that." 

Ayton has averaged a double-double in his four NBA seasons, but someone of his talent and skill set could produce more.

"He's got something to prove," Suns two-way player Ish Wainright said. "He's got something to prove. That's coming from last season, last game all the way to the summer all the way to now. He's got something to prove. You can by the way of his walk, his talk. He's ready. He's prepared for whatever. It don't matter. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to push him as much as I can." 

Read more: 'That's not the Robert Sarver I know': Devin Booker talks investigation

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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