Deandre Ayton ‘pleased to put free agency behind him’, re-signs with Suns

Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton officially re-signed with the organization on Monday, the team announced.

Ayton’s first since the Suns’ season ended in a press release.

“I’m excited to put free agency behind me and get ready to work and compete for a championship with my teammates,” Ayton said in the release.

Ayton did not speak to the media following the Suns exit in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks. Ayton had a verbal exchange with head coach Monty Williams when he left the game for the final time early in the third quarter, and when Williams was asked about it after the game, the coach said “it’s internal.”

Ayton had not previously spoken publicly since then or anywhere else during his restricted free agency when talk of the Suns potentially signing and trading the 23-year-old grew.

“DeAndre is a force on both ends of the floor who has elevated his game every year and will continue to do so,” general manager James Jones said in the release. “DA is very important to what we do and without him we could not have reached our recent level of success. We look forward to having DeAndre at home in the Valley where he lives.”

Shortly after the signing became official, ESPN’s Mark J. Spears dropped a story that mentions Ayton, Jones and Williams.

In the piece, Spears writes that Jones told Ayton he planned to re-sign him throughout free agency. It also included news from Ayton that he and Williams were on good terms.

The Indiana Pacers agreed to a four-year, $133 million offer sheet with Ayton on Thursday, which the Suns matched in three minutes. Phoenix and Ayton did not agree on a contract extension last October, leading to restricted free agency for Ayton. The Suns signed wing Mikal Bridges, a member of Ayton’s draft class.

Ayton was selected first overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. In his fourth year, Ayton averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 63.4% from the field. He was a key part of Phoenix’s run to the 2021 NBA Finals and a franchise-record 64 wins last regular season.