Recent reports indicate that Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton may not return to the Suns after all, and the Game 7 loss certainly didn’t help.
For a young, talented NBA player, the approach of free agency candidacy can alter their path in the league immensely. Players don’t choose where they get drafted, but that first team they choose, their first major contract… players are understandably choosy, weighing their options between where they can win and where they can earn the most.
With all that in mind, it would seem like the Phoenix Suns would endeavor to coax 23-year-old center Deandre Ayton away from leaving, but apparently that’s not how the situation is going as Ayton nears restricted free agency. A Reddit post details what reportedly happened to Ayton during Game 7, with rumors indicating that Ayton refused to re-enter the game when the Suns were down more than 40 points.
Following the aftermath of the Game 7 meltdown, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that Ayton reportedly does not feel valued in Phoenix.
“DeAndre Ayton did not feel valued by the Phoenix organization… So now, he moves towards RFA… DeAndre Ayton is going to get a max contract somewhere… There are a lot of teams lining up to figure out how to acquire him,” Wojnarowski said.
Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton may not be coming back
In an extensive feature, ESPN’s Maya A. Jones recently spoke with Ayton on how his lifelong love of gaming has intersected throughout his basketball career, becoming pivotal when the Bahamas native first moved to the United States.
Ayton didn’t say much about the fact that the Suns and Ayton failed to renew his contract last season, but he doesn’t seem concerned about his value on the market. According to Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs are all possible teams with the necessary cap space to welcome Ayton.
“That’s just the game, period, just knowing that you have to take care of business in order to get what you want,” Ayton told Jones.
If Phoenix can’t keep Ayton and has made the young phenom feel undervalued, it would be an incredible blow to the entire Phoenix organization. Phoenix Mercury point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith named Ayton among his Suns teammates as being exceptional in their support of the WNBA franchise.
“My experience with the Suns personally, even with the players, the crossover with the players — Devin Booker, Chris Paul, DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson — all of those guys front row at all of our playoff games last year in the Finals, and now they do a good job supporting the brand, bringing the kids, so I can really speak from that experience with those guys,” Diggins-Smith said.
Ayton has been loyal and supportive of the Suns, but as questions arise about how the organization values him, he may end up moving elsewhere after all.