“Smiley jokey DA I think he’s gone, this is a business to him now“ – NBA analyst believes Deandre Ayton wants to prove his worth in Suns, says conflict with coach is professional discord

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns - Game Five
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns: Game 5

The Phoenix Suns have had an offseason filled with storylines. Outside of the investigation surrounding their owner Robert Sarver, the team played a cat-and-mouse game with one of their core players.

Since being drafted first overall back in 2018, Deandre Ayton has been a key piece for the Suns. However, Phoenix's front office has shown an unwillingness to invest long-term in the young center.

After the two sides were unable to agree to on extension, Ayton became a restricted free agent this offseason. He signed a four-year, $133 million deal with the Indiana Pacers, but the Suns quickly matched the offer sheet.

Now with a new contract, Ayton is looking to use this season as an opportunity to showcase his value to the franchise.

During a recent appearance on ESPN's 'NBA Today,' Marc Spears reflected on how he expects to see a different demeanor from the 24-year-old this season.

"Smiley, Jokey DA, I think he's gone. This is a business to him now."
"I think he's coming in with a really serious mentality to be a force with the Suns."

The Phoenix Suns need to rekindle their relationship with Deandre Ayton

Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns: Game 1
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns: Game 1

While their postseason ended prematurely in 2022, the Suns still have a realistic shot at coming out of the Western Conference this season. If they want to compete with the best in the league, they will need to mend their relationship with Deandre Ayton.

As Chris Paul continues to age, his production will eventually start declining. That being said, his elite-level playmaking will never fade. Paul's presence on the roster has done wonders for Ayton as a pick-and-roll partner. Last season, he averaged 17.2 points with a career-best 64.2 field goal percentage.

Along with carrying a big load on offense, Phoenix is also going to need Ayton to excel on the defensive end. Looking at the other teams in the Western Conference, there are multiple frontcourt threats. Between Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, and the two Timberwolves bigs, Ayton is going to have his hands full this season.

One thing that has gotten the Suns this far is the strong culture they've built. Since their impressive run in the bubble, they have become one of the tighter-knit groups in the league.

Given how things went down this offseason, Ayton has every right to feel hurt by the organization. However, he now finds himself with a golden opportunity to silence all of his critics.

The Suns open their 2022-23 season against the Dallas Mavericks on October 19.

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Edited by andrew.tysiak
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