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Suns GM Says Team Has Moved On From Deandre Ayton Contract Saga: "The Contract Stuff Is Behind Us, And Our Focus Now Is How Do We Help Him Improve."

Deandre Ayton Reveals His True Feelings About Being Signed By The Indiana Pacers Before Suns Matched The Offer Sheet: "I Was Happy... It Was All Done, I Guess."

The Phoenix Suns are looking to establish themselves as championship threats in the 2022-23 season after they led the league in the regular season last year before a playoff collapse at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs have changed the perception of the Suns around the league and everybody will be looking to beat them.

The team is mostly the same heading into training camp with the most significant offseason move being the Suns retaining Deandre Ayton after declining to give him a max contract extension during the season. They matched an offer sheet Ayton signed with the Indiana Pacers. Suns GM James Jones has finally delved into that situation and how the relationship between the team and Ayton is going forward. 

You guys matched Indiana’s offer sheet for Deandre Ayton (four years, $133M). Is there peace and love all over the world now that he’s going to be with you?

James Jones: Yeah. That part is behind us. The contract stuff is behind us, and our focus now is how do we help him improve and continue to improve? We have ideas and plans to do that. It’s on me and the staff to figure out how to help him in conjunction with our other guys. Continue to realize their capacity, their potential. He’s good. He’s in great shape. He’s really been in the gym working on what I’d say are ‘second-level things’ and I know he’s excited to prove that he’s better than he was last year.” (h/t HoopsHype)

Will Deandre Ayton Be The Difference Maker For The Phoenix Suns?

Deandre Ayton is still a developing talent and can take a major leap in terms of his performance. The relationship between player and team seemed to have gotten really bad at the end of the season, with Ayton getting benched during the Suns' Game 7 loss to the Mavericks.

However, Ayton still has the most potential out of everyone in the Suns' lineup. Elite centers like him are not plentiful in the league and Phoenix needs to figure out how to accentuate his strengths a little more. 

Hopefully, we see Ayton have a defined, important, and consistent role on the team rather than meandering as the third option behind Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Given how the playoffs ended, maybe the Suns can start using CP3 to create more for Ayton and get ready to make Ayton a featured part of the Suns' offense.