EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Deandre Ayton happy to be valued by Blazers, moving on from Suns

Oct 16, 2023, 12:18 PM | Updated: 3:14 pm

Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers...

Deandre Ayton #2 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on before the exhibition game against the New Zealand Breakers at Moda Center on October 10, 2023 in Portland, Oregon. The Portland Trail Blazers won 106-66. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Deandre Ayton was a tad cagey. As expected.

The former Phoenix Suns center was a pleasure to speak with over the years but has his moments where he will be short and subdued, just like most players. That was how his first time back at Footprint Center since being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers began when talking with the media on Monday, before he started to open up more on the situation.

Ayton was happy to be in Phoenix to spend more time with his son, so that was what stood out for him when asked about coming back.

“I don’t feel anything,” he said after. “I’m about to play the Phoenix Suns.”

Ayton declined to speak about the Suns in Portland prior to Thursday’s first preseason game against Phoenix since the trade. But Ayton on Monday opened up more and expanded on memories with Phoenix.

“Definitely some remarkable moments I appreciate, to take with me,” he said. “Learning how to win and taking that with me as well. Knowing how hard it is to get a tradition going and to get guys going on the same level. So that’s the type of things I’m definitely taking with me to share to some of these younger guys, how hard it is in this league every day. It’s not about what you do yesterday, it’s about what you could do today.”

I don’t know if I want to call it more fuel on the fire, but Ayton’s introduction to Portland’s landscape at least generated a few headlines indicating there was friction between the Suns and him.

On media day, he thanked the Suns for “accommodating to his wishes.” When I take out my handy, “What did you mean by that?” chart, it could indicate Phoenix simply helped Ayton get to a situation he preferred once it was clear the Suns were moving on from him. Or, Ayton asked for a trade.

Sounds like the former.

Ayton clarified on Monday he was under the impression he was staying in Phoenix and did not anticipate at any point in his summer that would change.

As far as the line about his wishes?

“I just feel like them having the power to really send me anywhere they want, they sent me where I can be valued and be appreciated, things I wanted in my career,” Ayton said. “They ain’t just throw me anywhere. They threw me where guys my age (are) and the process of learning new basketball and starting something new and I just feel like it could have been worse. I really got blessed to be a part of an organization that really values me.”

Ayton’s mindset on how he will go about his time with the Blazers is a familiar one, something easy to gloss over across an inconsistent stretch on the court.

“Just playing hard every game and just representing the organization the best way I can,” he said. “And just shutting some folks up.”

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