Phoenix Sun Center Deandre Ayton He said he hasn’t spoken to head coach Monty Williams since he was benched during last May’s dramatic Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Phoenix used his restricted free-agent rights to sign a four-year, $133 million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers before signing a contract with the Suns.
“I haven’t talked to him since the game,” Ayton told reporters after Tuesday’s first practice of the season. “I can show him more than I can tell him. That’s life. No one cares about his awkward nature. It’s about how you prepare and what you bring to the table. What’s been said has already been said.”
Ayton worked out at the Suns facility for weeks before arriving at training camp, but Williams said he made a deliberate decision to leave his players alone this summer.
“I think 1-on-1s are always sought after among the guys I’ve been around for a while,” Williams said. “Some guys need it and some guys don’t. I’ll figure it out as the season goes on. I’ll talk to everybody like I always do in camp and it won’t be a problem.”
Ayton was tight-lipped in his comments to the media about how contract talks went over the past two days. He made it clear that he intended to take a more business-like approach to the season and not his more usual sense of humor.
“When I’m between those lines, I work man,” Ayton said. “I know I’m not playing for myself. I have an organization across my chest and a name on my back. I’m here to work.”
Last season, the top-seeded Suns won 64 games and were eliminated by the Mavs in a 33-point home loss. Ayton played only 17 minutes in the game. When asked why at the time, Williams only said it was an “internal” matter.
At the team dinner Monday night, Williams spoke about his loss with the team.
“A lot was made of Game 7, but we talked about it as a team last night,” Williams said. “I put you to bed last night.”
On Monday, Williams said he believes Ayton can put any lingering issues behind him.
“He’s a great player, and he’s a great guy,” Williams said. “There are times when you can be proud of certain things, but that doesn’t define a person as a whole. And I think it’s okay sometimes when things just blow up and you don’t know all the facts.”
Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 58 games last season.