“It’s frustrating and I know what I did and it was the biggest mistake and unintentional mistake that happened in my life,” Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, said of his time away from playing. “It was something to learn from and build from it. It’s a mistake and everybody makes mistakes. It’s just how you bounce back really. I think that is what everybody is waiting for. I did my time so I’m here.”
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Kelly Oubre Jr. has been watching. So have Frank Kaminsky, Mikal Bridges and Devin Booker. The Phoenix Suns have seen up close and personal Deandre Ayton go through his 25-game suspension in a fashion that makes them very optimistic about his return. “He’s been working his ass off while he’s been out,” Oubre said. “I’ve been seeing growth firsthand, and I’m just excited for him to get back in the rhythm of being back.” Ayton hasn’t played since the season opener Phoenix won by 29 points back on Oct. 23. “He’s got a lot of frustration and energy pent up that I know he’s ready to let go,” Kaminsky said.
Williams felt like this was an opportunity for the Suns to show they’re family by supporting Ayton. They’ve done that. “We’ve supported him throughout every game he missed,” Booker said. “I know that can’t be easy. So, he’s anxious to be out there and we’re anxious to be out there with him.”
Deandre Ayton was there for the Phoenix Suns’ head-turning win Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors. In fact, he’s been with the Suns since beginning a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA/NBPA anti-drug policy by testing positive for a diuretic. “You watch him after our games on the plane, he’s the first person there to greet everybody,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Says a lot about him growing up.”
“He’s going to be out for a while, but he’s our guy,” said Williams of Ayton, who had 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in the Suns’ 29-point opening night win over the Sacramento Kings at Talking Stick Resort Arena. “You talk about family and sports a lot and I’m not big on that because I think we use the term loosely, but now is a chance for us to really show that we are a family.”
“He’s doing well,” Williams said. “He’ll be hungry once he gets back I’m sure. When you have the game taken away from you, you just have a desire to get back on the floor not only to play, but be there for your teammates.” Ayton has to leave the arena two hours before a game, home or away, while he’s suspended, but he’s remained supportive of his teammates.
Gina Mizell: Deandre Ayton was doing some extra work with Cheick Diallo, as well as assistant/player development coaches, today after practice. Due to game/travel scheduling, this was the #Suns’ first true practice since Ayton’s suspension.
It has been nearly a week since Suns center Deandre Ayton was handed a 25-game suspension by the league for, according to an NBA statement, violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for a diuretic.” Ayton has planned all along to fight the suspension and he’ll finally get the chance by the end of this week. According to a league source, Ayton’s camp and the players union expects to meet with the NBA to present its case for a reduction of the suspension by the end of the week.
Duane Rankin: “They don’t have anyone who can replace Deandre Ayton by themselves.” #Nuggets coach Michael Malone. Malone also gave Aron Baynes props, but understands the value of Ayton. #Suns
Duane Rankin: Wondering what #Suns center Deandre Ayton can and can’t do during this 25-game suspension? According to an #NBA spokesperson, he can practice with the team, but must leave the arena two hours prior to the games in which he is suspended for.
Gina Mizell: #Suns coach Monty Williams on Deandre Ayton’s suspension. “I’m fine. We’re fine…anytime you’re dealing with stuff like that, you’re concerned about the person involved. My responsibility as a coach is to get our team prepared and move us forward every single day.”
Gina Mizell: Devin Booker said the #Suns have to view Ayton’s suspension as an injury: “Obviously, it’s unfortunate losing a player like him, but we have to deal with it. There’s gonna be bumps in the courses, and we know that as a team. I think that’s gonna unify is even more.”
Kellan Olson: Monty Williams on @AZSports says they totally support Ayton through the suspension. “Situations like this are tough but James has done an unreal job of adding depth to our team.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Deandre Ayton statement: “I want to apologize to my family, the entire Suns organization, my teammates, partners, our fans and the Phoenix community. This was an unintentional mistake and unfortunately I put something in my body that I was completely unaware of. I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that I am deeply sorry. I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down. I will continue to work with the NBPA to go through arbitration and am hopeful of a positive resolution.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Follow-up testing on Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton showed no traces of any other banned substances, sources with knowledge of results tell ESPN. NBPA is likely to fast-track arbitration process to push for a reduction as soon as possible, per sources.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Suns center Deandre Ayton is facing a 25-game suspension for violating NBA’s Anti-Drug policy with a positive test for a diuretic, league sources tell ESPN. The NBA informed Ayton and Suns of looming suspension tonight.
Olgun Uluc: Inbox: NBA makes this official. Deandre Ayton has been suspended without pay for 25 games, beginning with tomorrow’s Suns vs Nuggets matchup.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBPA is already preparing arbitration case to reduce or rescind penalty, based on belief positive test falls under CBA provision of ‘unintentional ingestion’, league sources tell ESPN. Ayton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
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June 25, 2022 | 6:51 am EDT Update
But whatever the case, teams are reportedly making preparations for the Nets star potentially being available in the coming days. That’s according to ESPN insider Zach Lowe on a post-NBA draft episode of his Lowe Post podcast: “I can tell you this. This is what teams are doing. Teams are already operating under, not the assumption, but ‘we need to prepare for the contingency that Kevin Durant is available via trade in six days or seven days.’ … The whole league is now.”
Rumors have it that if Irving ends up leaving the Nets, Durant could also ask out. For Windhorst, trying to trade for KD after the Irving situation blew up would be something the Heat could do. “The godfather move is not to trade for Kyrie Irving. The godfather move is to let the Kyrie Irving situation to blow up and then wait for Kevin Durant to say he wants out of there. That’s the Miami Heat move,” Windhorst said on ESPN’s Get Up.
Woj also said that while Irving has given the Nets six NBA destinations he’d prefer if there’s no agreement, there is limited interest in him at max money. The ESPN insider said the only team with any real interest is the Lakers. Still, he argued, getting Irving a contract paying more than $6.3 million — the taxpayers MLE — seems unlikely. “This is getting acrimonious,” Woj told a panel on ESPN’s NBA analysts. “and I think that’s the concern when you look at not only Kyrie’s future in Brooklyn, but also Kevin Durant’s future and whether they can hold this thing together.”
Woj also was clear that with some of Irving’s six landing spots, not all of them reciprocate. “The interest isn’t mutual in several of these places,” Woj said. “Obviously the Lakers are the ones that loom. And will Kyrie Irving walk away from a $36.9 million player option that he can opt into and have that money guaranteed, especially after a year where he lost about $17 million by not being vaccinated last year and untold more with a sneaker deal that isn’t going to be there anymore, certainly at the level it was.”
Several teams have already been linked to a potential swoop on Kyrie if his contract negotiations with the Nets continue to deteriorate. Be that as it may, NBA analyst Chris Broussard believes that Irving’s options aren’t actually as vast as some might think: “Half of these teams don’t even want Kyrie,” Broussard said on First Things First. “I was texting with someone that works for one of these teams yesterday, ‘You want Kyrie?’ ‘No!’ It was the fastest return text I’ve ever got. And then, ‘What do you think of his wish list?’ ‘Tomfoolery & wishful thinking.’ That was the answer.”
Jake Fischer on Dejounte Murray: The Spurs have a really high asking price for him. They’ve told multiple teams that I’ve spoken to have called them that the price is a Jrue Holiday-like deal, three first-round picks seems to be the benchmark.