June 23, 2022

Suns’ Monty Williams backs use of Deandre Ayton in Game 7

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams talks to Deandre Ayton #22 in the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Finals at the Phoenix Suns Arena on July 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns beat the Bucks 118-108. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns’ 2021-22 season ended abruptly with a 123-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 at home.

Suns center Deandre Ayton played just 17 minutes in the 33-point loss and seemed to be arguing with head coach Monty Williams at the start of the third quarter.

Immediately after the loss, Williams was asked about the use of center, but before the reporter could finish his question, he received a quick response from the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year.

“It’s internal,” Williams abruptly told reporters on Sunday.

Ayton finished Sunday’s game with five points, four rebounds and two assists.

During his exit interview with the media on Monday, Williams was asked if he and the Suns’ 2018 No. 1 pick had a chance to speak after the loss.

“We didn’t,” Williams told reporters on Monday. “You know me, I’m going to do everything I can to help us win games. At that point, with the lead where it was, I made the decision not to put him back in the game. I’ll keep all the internal stuff in-house, but it was just a decision I made. It also got to the point where I didn’t feel like Chris (Paul) and (Devin Booker) were going to help us at that exact moment.

“We haven’t spoken, I spoke to the team today but I didn’t speak to DA”

Ayton is slated to sign a new contract this offseason but is a restricted free agent, which means Phoenix can match any offer sheet made to the big man.

He finished the season averaging 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game on a career-high 63.4 percent shooting.

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