Mikal Bridges, Joe Johnson and others react to Ayton not agreeing on extension
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.
I just have no idea how you can come to this conclusion if you’re Sarver. The Suns are so fun, and I love watching them maybe more than any NBA team right now.
But man, that owner. What a disaster. https://t.co/wUiSRX7vtc
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) October 18, 2021
ESPN’s Bomani Jones went even further.
not that he hasn’t demonstrated it repeatedly for over a decade, but i just can’t believe sarver is this dumb. there’s an irony to perhaps overdrafting ayton for non-basketball reasons but now refusing to pay him what he’s clearly worth. now ain’t the time to go cheap. https://t.co/01v0JN9E6q
— bomani (@bomani_jones) October 18, 2021
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.