Suns have plan in place for suspended Deandre Ayton, will reintegrate him
Here’s what we know about Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton.
He was suspended 25 games following the team’s season opener after testing positive for a diuretic. Ayton released a statement through ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that was later included in the Phoenix Suns’ as well.
Ayton’s statement included more language on appealing the suspension, while Phoenix’s did not. Wojnarowski had reported that an appeal process would be underway, but there has been no news on that a full month later.
Ayton has been at team practices and shootarounds, often participating in pickup games that take place after practice. He has to be out of the arena two hours prior to tip-off for games, but otherwise, he’s been around and still working with the team.
There’s not much to know in terms of how involved Ayton is in these practices and shootarounds, what work he is exactly doing to keep himself ready and more.
General manager James Jones joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo Tuesday and provided some clarity as to Ayton’s situation 15 games into his suspension.
“We’ve been focused on a transition for him since the initial suspension,” he said. “So every day, there’s a plan to keep his conditioning level up, his skill level up. And as we get closer to the games, coach will start to reintegrate him in our pregame routine, our practice routine, our practice plan, so it’ll work itself out.”
Jones likes what he has seen from his franchise center in terms of staying prepared.
“He’ll be ready. He’s been working tirelessly. He’s been really good,” Jones said. “Every facet of it, from the weight room, from conditioning level, from his skill work, his post-practice and pregame routine — he’s been functioning and executing at a high level.
“So I think he’ll be good. The toughest thing when he comes back will be the adjustment, getting reacclimated to NBA tempo. But from a skill perspective, from a physical perspective, he looks really, really good.”
The GM isn’t concerned about Ayton’s mindset, either.
“He’s attacking every day,” Jones said. “Everything that he’s done, he’s done at a high level. His maturity level is increasing. You expect that to happen in a second year but he’s had a lot of time to reflect and a lot of time to improve. It’s gonna pay dividends. I don’t worry about DA’s approach to the game and his desire to be dominant and impactful because that’s what he wants and he knows he has time to do it.”