Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton said he hasn’t spoken to head coach Monty Williams since sitting on the bench in a stunning Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in May.
Ayton had a tense summer with the Suns, signing a four-year $133 million offer with the Indiana Pacers before being matched by Phoenix with his limited free agent rights.
“I haven’t spoken to him at all since the game,” Ayton told reporters on Tuesday after the first practice of the season. “I can show him better than I can tell him. It’s life. Nobody cares about the awkwardness of it, it’s about how you perform and what you bring to the table. What is said has already been said.”
Ayton worked at the Suns facility for weeks leading up to training camp, but Williams said he deliberately decided to leave players alone for a bit this summer to give them space.
“I think 1-on-1s are always needed between guys I’ve been around for a while,” Williams said. “Some guys need it and some guys don’t. I’ll determine that as the season goes on. I’ll talk to everyone like I always do during camp and it won’t be a problem at all.”
Ayton has been succinct in his comments to the media about his feelings over the past two days about how the contract talks have gone. He has made it clear that he intends to approach the season in a businesslike manner and has not had his more typical jovial demeanor.
“If I’m in between those lines, man, I’m working,” Ayton said. “I know I’m not playing for myself. I have an organization on my chest and a name on my back to represent, I’m just here to work.”
The Suns, the top seeded after winning 64 games last season, were eliminated by the Mavs in a 33-point loss on their home floor. Ayton played just 17 minutes into the match. When asked why, Williams only said it was an “internal” matter.
At a team dinner on Monday night, Williams spoke to the team about the loss.
“So much has been made of Game 7, but we tackled that as a team last night,” Williams said. “I put it to bed last night.”
On Monday, Williams said he believed Ayton could put any lingering problems behind him.
“He’s just too good a player and he’s a good guy,” Williams said. “There are times when you bump your head on certain things, but that doesn’t define a person in their entirety. And I think sometimes those things are just blown out of proportion and rightly so, if you don’t know all the facts.”
Ayton averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds in 58 games last season.