Deandre Ayton and Monty Williams ‘back to normal,’ center tells Arizona Republic

Oct 10, 2022, 12:20 PM

Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns talks with Deandre Ayton #22 in the second half of ga...

Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns talks with Deandre Ayton #22 in the second half of game two of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on July 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Bucks 118-108. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Deandre Ayton is finally putting any tense moments of his relationship with Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams in the rear-view mirror before the 2022-23 season begins.

In a one-on-one interview with Arizona Republic reporter Duane Rankin on Sunday, Ayton said everything is back to normal.

Q: Got to clear stuff up. Have you and Monty talked?

DA: “Yeah, most def. I mean, we talk, man. At the end of the day, it’s like we’re trying to contribute to a win. Everything is back to normal. Nothing has changed to be honest. Yeah, I may have come to media day (Sept. 26) just bland, but I wasn’t trying to give nobody no damn story or nothing, but it flipped on me. So, I can’t really say nothing. Just let everybody run away with it. All I know is we’ve been in here working. We’ve been battling each other, beating up each other in training camp. Coach has been loving it.

That comment comes after the duo did little over the past two weeks to brush aside a potential rift that started with Ayton’s benching in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals last season.

At a Sept. 26 media day, Ayton gave a tepid reaction to his max contract signed this offseason, then followed that a day later by an admission that he and the Suns coach hadn’t spoken since the Game 7 loss.

The comments seemed to bleed the narrative of Ayton’s ugly end to 2021-22 — and his long wait to get a new contract — into this year.

Speaking to Rankin over the weekend, Ayton said that anyone who wants to stir things up between he and Williams can feel free to run away with it. He and his coach are in a good place, Ayton insisted.

The big man also said that the team’s “mental stamina,” his in particular, wasn’t up to par in that Game 7 blowout to the Dallas Mavericks. Ayton said he and the team are moving on with a championship in mind.

The comments come after, last week, Williams was asked if he’d yet spoken with Ayton. Williams told reporters that he would not address their talks and added he didn’t feel like anything needed to be aired out between them.

His center, now, appears to share that sentiment.

Speaking with Rankin on Sunday, Ayton also addressed his new contract and the failed extension talks heading into last year.

This past summer, Phoenix quickly matched a max offer given to Ayton by the Indiana Pacers. The deal was a year shorter and approximately $40 million less than the most money he could have agreed to with the Suns the prior offseason.

At media day, Ayton said of the contract result: “I was happy — it was all done. I guess.”

Over the weekend, he told Rankin:

M-A-X is M-A-X. That’s how I look at it. M-A-X is M-A-X. At the end of the day, yes, we play for money and we have to take care of our families and we’re fortunate enough to play basketball to gain that much money, but at the same time, I’ve got love for the game. I want to have fun when I play. I have a group of guys who I damn near grew up with. I’ve got a couple of best friends on the team. So it’s like, where am I going to go?

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Deandre Ayton and Monty Williams ‘back to normal,’ center tells Arizona Republic