Deandre Ayton still Suns’ priority, says GM: ‘We want to keep it together’

Jun 23, 2022, 10:28 PM | Updated: Jun 24, 2022, 12:27 am

Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones said nothing has changed on the Deandre Ayton front over the past several weeks, from his seat at least.

As NBA whispers coming out as anonymous reports involved the assumption that Phoenix could part with its starting center for the right sign-and-trade price, Jones reiterated Thursday after the NBA Draft that retaining the restricted free agent is a priority.

“D.A. remains a huge part of what we do,” Jones said after the Suns did not make a pick or a trade during the draft. “This team is a really good team and we want to keep it together.”

Of course, there’s little reason for Jones to tip his hand at this point.

As for the draft, Jones said that the phones were busier than usual because teams knew the Suns might be up for trading into the event, having dealt their picks in the past few years to acquire point guard Chris Paul and forward Torrey Craig. But no deal to add a rookie came to fruition.

Jones on Thursday spoke to reporters for the first time since after the Suns’ playoff run ended. When asked about Ayton’s impending free agency, where Phoenix can man any offer extended to the big man from another team, Jones pushed that conversation down the road, when the negotiating window has not yet opened.

“That’s a free agency situation,” the general manager said. “What we were focused on today was the draft and starting to prepare ourselves and our guys for Summer League, for fall. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, D.A.’s a tremendous part of what we do and we want to keep it together.

“I see a good roster. I see a good mix of guys,” Jones added.

The 23-year-old, who went No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft, did not reach a contract extension with the Suns last offseason and was seeking a max deal.

Both his representation and the Suns admitted that the two sides were not in the same ballpark in terms of money and length for an extension.

Ayton put that disappointment behind him for the most part. Ayton averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists last season.

But he ended 2021-22 on a sour note in the second round of the playoffs. Ayton played 17 minutes but had a bench spat with head coach Monty Williams in a Game 7 blowout loss against the Dallas Mavericks.

Empire of the Suns

Follow @KellanOlson...

Kellan Olson

Valley Suns reopen avenue for development through G League

The Suns have to maximize every possibility for improving their roster and they reopened one of those avenues with a G League franchise.

1 day ago

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer is introducted on Friday, May 17, 2024....

Kevin Zimmerman

Why Suns coach Mike Budenholzer might do what Frank Vogel couldn’t

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer played to a frustrated fan base. He gave reason to believe why he can do what Frank Vogel didn't.

6 days ago

Jamal Shead, Houston Cougars...

Kevin Zimmerman

NBA Draft Combine: What might pop so far to the Suns

Point guards and 3-and-D wings stood out in the first day of 2024 NBA Draft Combine scrimmages on Tuesday.

9 days ago

Owner Mat Ishbia, Kevin Durant and general manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns pose for a photo...

Kellan Olson

Suns have lengthy offseason checklist with limited maneuverability

It doesn't appear the Phoenix Suns can blow up their Big 3. So they must improve around the margins with limited trade and draft assets.

11 days ago

Head coach Mike Budenholzer (R) speaks with Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 in a game against the Philade...

Kellan Olson

Mike Budenholzer’s pedigree a match for Suns. Is his accountability?

The Phoenix Suns got the right guy for the job in Mike Budenholzer, as long as he can get through to the locker room.

14 days ago

Head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns talks with Devin Booker #1 during the second half of gam...

Kellan Olson

Suns have to hope Frank Vogel’s exit fixes broken team dynamic

If Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal aren't fully bought in with the coach, then what were the Suns doing here?

15 days ago

Deandre Ayton still Suns’ priority, says GM: ‘We want to keep it together’