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Suns’ Monty Williams’ two-word explanation on why Deandre Ayton only played 17 minutes in Game 7

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Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton only played 17 minutes in the team’s Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night despite being an integral part of the team’s success in the regular season and the playoff the last two years.

It was the third time in the series Ayton played fewer than 30 minutes. He had played 32 minutes or more in the first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans. When questioned about it, the newly crowned NBA Coach of the Year didn’t elaborate so much on his decision.

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Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during Game 6 of the semifinals against the Mavericks on May 12, 2022, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball during Game 6 of the semifinals against the Mavericks on May 12, 2022, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

“It’s internal,” he said, via 98.7 Arizona Sports.

NBA journalist Nate Duncan noted the last defensive possession before Ayton was subbed out. Ayton failed to close out on a Jalen Brunson.

Devin Booker also commented on Ayton’s contract situation.

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Suns head coach Monty Williams argues a foul called against the Suns with referee Tre Maddox during a game Dec. 16, 2021, in Phoenix.

Suns head coach Monty Williams argues a foul called against the Suns with referee Tre Maddox during a game Dec. 16, 2021, in Phoenix.
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

“His contract situation is between him and the front office. I care about him as a brother. Just making sure his mental is right… whatever happens, happens. Kind of hard to look so far in the future,” Booker said, via FanSided.

Ayton is set to become a restricted free agent ahead of the 2022-23 season, According to Spotrac, Ayton could receive a $16.4 million qualifying offer.

Phoenix general manager James Jones told The Athletic in October that talks with Ayon never got to the point of “real negotiations.”

Deandre Ayton of the Suns shoots against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 7 of the semifinals on May 15, 2022, at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Deandre Ayton of the Suns shoots against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 7 of the semifinals on May 15, 2022, at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

“We know it’s important to us; it’s important to him that we continue to progress and we continue to develop and we win [a title]. So when we talked about a focus this offseason, it was to continue to build this team,” Jones said then “So for us, unfortunately, we are where we are [with Ayton]. No agreement. We didn’t have real negotiations.”

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Since he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Suns in 2018, Ayton has averaged 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.



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