Deandre Ayton’s lack of playoff moxie is no longer the Suns’ problem
Sep 27, 2023, 3:58 PM | Updated: Sep 28, 2023, 6:10 am
The Suns polished off their championship roster on Wednesday — they traded a giant cat for a few more dogs.
Deandre Ayton is no longer our problem, no longer our obsession.
Sorry for the harsh words, but the truth hurts. And for all of the great qualities that Ayton possesses — lovable, funny, bursting with personality and style — he is not a serious professional. He talks a great game, but rarely exceeds expectations. He cannot be trusted in the postseason.
The latter is his fatal flaw. And it cannot be tolerated any longer. Not when the franchise is on the cusp of that elusive NBA championship. And by now, it should be obvious to everyone.
Former Suns head coach Monty Williams famously blamed Ayton for quitting on his team during the 2021 NBA Finals. That criticism has always felt a bit heavy-handed and unfair.
But Ayton’s performance against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets four months ago cannot be rationalized or reconciled; it was a series that convinced Devin Booker and Kevin Durant that the former No. 1 overall draft pick simply does not want it.
Not like they do. Not like we do.
The Suns might struggle defensively in 2023-24, missing what Ayton provided on the good nights, when he was engaged, active and able to catch the basketball.
But to the Suns’ credit, they also received an intriguing complement of players in return while playing the role of trade facilitator.
There will be lingering regrets. The drafting of Ayton came at a very vulnerable and chaotic time in franchise history; when former owner Robert Sarver took current general manager James Jones on a overseas scouting trip of Luka Doncic, leaving the then-GM Ryan McDonough twisting in the wind and fretting about his own job security (for good reason).
There will also be a faction of Suns fans convinced that Ayton deserved one last chance, proving that he had finally grown up over the summer and was ready to turn a competitive corner under new head coach Frank Vogel. Fans were giddy with how Ayton performed for Team Bahamas, even though international basketball is soft-serve ice cream, and nothing like the trench warfare in the NBA.
In their need to prove their fandom through empathy, these Suns fans conveniently forget that team leaders no longer trust him.
So why should you?
This was the right move at the right time. This move was inevitable because nothing matters except the championship banner missing from the Footprint Center. And because a fresh start was imperative.
Not for Ayton and his untapped potential. For Booker, Durant, and the rest of us on Planet Orange.
Reach Bickley at email@example.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.