Deandre Ayton: Phoenix Suns’ playoff exit is “all in the past”

Deandre Ayton has stated the Phoenix Suns’ playoff exit is ‘all in the past”, as the franchise officially announced the re-signing of their 6’11” starting center.

Speaking with ESPN in the wake of securing a four-year, $133 million contract, Ayton made his first public comments since the Suns’ disastrous game seven loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the second-round of the playoffs.

Ayton’s relationship with the franchise has been a constant source of discussion in recent times. Beginning with the team’s unwillingness to give him a five-year max contract extension last offseason, before he was benched in the second half of the concluding game at home.

Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns are moving on from the team’s playoff exit, committing to each other as the franchise aims to atone for their disappointing conclusion to the 2021-22 season.

Ayton, who signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers before the Suns immediately matched, labelled game seven an ‘anomaly’.

We let that get away from us as a team. That is all in the past. We’re going to look forward. We are going to move on…I’m happy. The process is over. I put all this behind me and focus on chasing a championship this upcoming season with my brothers.”

Both parties have acknowledged the scenario was simply the business of basketball, with Suns head coach Monty Williams believing the team should thrive without the burden of contract distractions.

“All of us are in this position, one, we love the NBA, we love the league, we love the game, but we get paid a lot of money and you have a short window to do it”, Williams said.

Having stated that matching the Pacers’ offer was “urgent” and critical”, general manager James Jones focused on Ayton and the team’s future moving forward.

“He’s motivated to continue to improve, and we’re motivated to help him reach that level. And if he can reach that level, we’re a great team, an even better team. We’re already a good team. We’re already a great team, but we’re even better.”

Taken with pick one in the 2018 NBA draft, Ayton has averaged 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds across his four-year career.