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The Phoenix Suns enter the 2022-2023 NBA season under a cloud of uncertainty after bowing out early during last year's NBA Playoffs, as owner Robert Sarver looks for buyers for the team, and as pundits question whether Phoenix has reached the end of its run.
After winning 64 games during the regular season, Phoenix was unceremoniously sent home early by the Dallas Mavericks in a 33-point Game 7 loss at home during the Western Conference Semifinals.
The loss was jarring, especially with star center Deandre Ayton playing just 17 minutes, benched by head coach Monty Williams who said it was an “internal” matter.
SUNS’ DEANDRE AYTON ‘HAPPY’ TO REMAIN IN PHOENIX
As the Suns prepare to run it back with point guard Chris Paul entering his 18th season, the relationship between Ayton and Williams still does not appear to be settled.
“I haven't spoken to him at all, ever since the game,” Ayton told reporters after the first practice of the season on Tuesday, according to ESPN. “I can show him better than I can tell him. It's life. Nobody cares about the uncomfortable nature of it, it's how you perform and what you bring to the table. What's said is already said.”
ROBERT SARVER TO BEGIN ‘PROCESS OF SEEKING BUYERS’ FOR SUNS, MERCURY AFTER NBA SUSPENSION
The offseason was an interesting one for Ayton, who agreed to the largest offer sheet in the history of the NBA, signing a four-year, $133 million maximum contract with the Indiana Pacers.
The Suns matched the offer sheet, keeping the former No.1 overall pick in Phoenix and preventing the organization from involving Ayton in a trade until January 15 of next year, and a full year to trade him without Ayton’s approval.
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Williams said he addressed the Suns’ blowout loss to the Mavericks Monday night at the team dinner, and that he expects Ayton to put the Game 7 benching behind him.
“He's just too good of a player, and he's a good dude,” Williams said Monday, according to ESPN. “There's times where you bump heads on certain issues, but that doesn't define a person in totality. And I think sometimes that stuff just gets blown out of proportion and rightfully so, when you don't know all the facts.”
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The Suns found out last week that owner Robert Sarver will begin ‘seeking buyers’ for the team after being suspended one year by the NBA after an investigation concluded he made racist and misogynistic remarks.
Phoenix opens the regular season against the Mavericks on October 19.