The Phoenix Suns have not been trending in the right direction since their Finals run in 2021.
They ended last season extremely short of expectations, and now, after a less than ideal free agency, the Suns are facing a broken relationship with their star big man, Deandre Ayton.
This week, Ayton shed some new light on his dynamic with the team when he revealed he hadn’t spoken to head coach Monty Williams since the start of the summer.
Kendrick Perkins Calls Out Monty Williams For Not Settling Things With Deandre Ayton
With many fans and analysts shocked to hear about a lack of effort to repair the relationship, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins took some time to call him out on First Take Wednesday.
“Deandre Ayton was the number one pick. Deandre Ayton is 24 years of age. He hasn’t even scratched the surface of his prime,” Perkins said. “Yes he may need a little guidance, but the one thing that we can’t knock about Deandre Ayton is his productivity throughout the course of his career. He’s gotten better every single year… when you have a young guy with the talent of Deandre Ayton, you gotta expect that he’s gonna want more individually, and he should. He was the no. 1 overall pick. He’s gonna wanna make All-Star games like Devin Booker. One year, he might wanna win the MVP and that’s okay. But this falls on the shoulders of Monty Williams. I need him to be more of a mentor. I need him to put his pride aside.”
Williams has been widely praised for his leadership over the Suns. Since taking over, he has elevated them to a place of prosperity in the West.
But it is no secret that Monty’s relationship with Ayton has turned sour, and it’s hard to imagine how it wouldn’t impact their effectiveness on the court.
“I haven't talked to a lot of guys,” said the coach when asked why he hasn’t spoke to Ayton. “Like I said earlier in the summer, they needed a break," Monty said to the press on Tuesday. "From me, the gym. Unless you were in the gym like every day... I've had interactions with everybody, talking to guys about deep stuff. I think when you've been around a group as much as we have the last three years -- first year the bubble, and then condensed seasons -- I felt like guys needed a break. Even when guys are in the gym, I wouldn't come downstairs just cause I wanted them to get a break from me. I think so much has been made of Game 7," Williams continued. "We put it to bed last night as a team. You can ask everybody in the gym, I put it to bed last night."
This season, the Suns will have a lot to prove. After back-to-back early playoff eliminations, there is a sense that this is their last chance to win it all.
No matter what, they will need Ayton and all that he brings to the table if they want any hope of meeting their goals.
Maybe it’s time for Monty Williams to swallow his pride and make amends with Deandre before it’s too late.