Williams: Suspended Ayton showed contrition, Suns pivot to Baynes
The Phoenix Suns don’t have time to feel sorry for themselves after learning that center Deandre Ayton could miss 25 games if a suspension for diuretic use is upheld.
It’s a matter of what’s next.
“He’s shown a level of contrition that he should show. I’ll find out more about what he can and can’t do as we go forward,” Suns head coach Monty Williams told Doug & Wolf Friday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “He’ll be around the team. That’s who we are. We’re not a team or an organization that just shuns people when they make mistakes.
“At the same time, our guys have shown a level of togetherness and unity in any situation, whether it’s a guy messing up a pick-and-roll coverage or blowing a play. All of our guys, Ricky (Rubio) and Devin (Booker) and Aron (Baynes) have shown great leadership since Flagstaff and even before that when Devin had all the guys out in California.”
The Suns will begin the Ayton-less journey at 6 p.m. Friday against the Denver Nuggets, one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
Williams told Doug & Wolf during his weekly Friday morning call-in that three Suns will address their teammates before the game. Booker, Rubio and Baynes will speak about the road ahead.
Baynes will replace Ayton in the starting lineup against Denver All-Star Nikola Jokic, Williams added.
The Suns could turn to using Frank Kaminsky more at center on top of his backup power forward duties, while bouncy big man Cheick Diallo could also find a bigger role after seeing mop-up minutes in the season-opening 124-95 win against Sacramento on Wednesday.
“We certainly feel bad about the situation but at the same time we have depth, we have guys who are hungry,” the head coach said. “We’re not satisfied. We know we’re fortunate and blessed to be in this position and I think our guys are up for it.
“I just think about the Portland (preseason) game, where we didn’t have DA, Ricky or Devin. We went out there and just hooped. The ball moved. We were just playing good body movement, ball movement basketball. We were together in a really tough environment.”
Sharing win with family
Williams, on his first game as head coach since the death of his first wife, Ingrid, and sharing a postgame moment with his family after the win over the Kings: “To be able to get a win like that in my first game in Phoenix and have my family there was so cool. They came down to the office after the game and were in my office. It was emotional, we took pictures and … we tried to make it normal as we could but it was just hard.
“Emotionally, it was great as a coach, but also as a father to have all my kids there and also to have my new wife there to share all that and to be a part of it. It was a really cool moment.”