PHOENIX SUNS

Mikal Bridges, Joe Johnson and others react to Ayton not agreeing on extension

Oct 18, 2021, 4:57 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2021, 5:46 pm
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges #25 celebrate defeating the LA Clippers 104...
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges #25 celebrate defeating the LA Clippers 104-103 in game two of the NBA Western Conference finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 22, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton did not speak to the media at practice Monday following reports that he and the team did not agree on his rookie contract extension.

Forward Mikal Bridges, who signed his own extension Monday morning, did. He made it clear he wants to play with Ayton for a long time.

“We came here together and we obviously always want to be here together,” Bridges said. “Obviously I can’t do nothing, I’m not in the process, but we want him here and I know he wants to be here as well.”

The NBA season tips off Tuesday and the Suns play their first game Wednesday night against the Nuggets.

As the defending Western Conference champions, this is a crucial year for Phoenix to stay in contention with the same corps as last year.

Bridges wants to help Ayton focus while being empathetic to the situation.

“I try to do the best I can to kind of clear his mind and not think about it but we’re humans,” Bridges said. “It’s tough. Just try to help him, one of my best friends. It’s bigger than basketball. I want to play with him … Being around him every single day, I just don’t want to lose that.”

Ayton previously said he was disappointed that a deal was not worked out, and he felt disrespected.

He’s watched other players from his draft class like Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Michael Porter Jr. and Jaren Jackson Jr. get locked up to lucrative deals.

Naturally, this news caused some reactions on TV and Twitter.

ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Today that many people around the league were “shocked” that Suns owner Robert Sarver did not award Ayton his desired max contract. He added that Ayton is very unhappy with this.

Commenting on Wojnarowski’s Instagram post was former Suns guard Joe Johnson, who infamously did not come to an extension agreement after a surprising run in the first year of the Seven Seconds or Less era and then departed for the Atlanta Hawks.

“Sounds about right… coming from Robert🤷🏾‍♂️,” Johnson replied to Wojnarowski’s news.

NBA writer for The Athletic Sam Vecenie also did not agree with the team’s decision.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones went even further.

ESPN analyst and former NBA center Kendrick Perkins made the point on NBA Today that everyone needs to be focused to go on a title run.

“The man deserves his dollars.”

The deadline for an extension has passed, so what comes next is simply playing basketball. But the failure to agree to terms will set up some major decisions next offseason for the franchise and the former No.1 overall pick.

Phoenix Suns

(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Suns)...
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Mikal Bridges, Joe Johnson and others react to Ayton not agreeing on extension