The Phoenix Suns were routed on Sunday in Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals by a score of 123-90. All-Star guard Chris Paul had an unusually poor showing against the Dallas Mavericks. Still, the biggest breakdown for Phoenix appears to have been between head coach Monty Williams and center Deandre Ayton.
With the Mavericks already ahead by 38 points in the early goings of the third quarter, the 2022 NBA Head Coach of the Year sat Ayton down for the remainder of the game and sent in backup big man Bismack Biyombo instead. According to a few outlets, Ayton was reportedly upset with being benched and launched some colorful words in Williams’ direction. Williams was said to have then marched towards his disgruntled 23-year-old center and asked him, “What did you say?” before a pair of assistant coaches kept them apart.
Ayton finished the game with five points, four rebounds, two assists, and no blocks over the course of his 17 minutes on the court. Rapper Lil Wayne was sitting courtside near the Suns’ bench, and he supposedly overheard the messy exchange between Williams and Ayton. Weezy shared what he knew with his close pal and sports commentator Skip Bayless, who then spilled the beans on his Fox Sports 1 show, Undisputed.
“This, from what I was told, got really ugly,” Bayless revealed. “From what our man Lil Wayne told me…I think he either heard it or could lip-read. Monty got so upset with Ayton that he said, ‘You fricking quit on us.’ And that led to an exchange where each Monty and Ayton had to be restrained from going at each other.”
The blowup between the duo was unforeseen, given how the center had blossomed under Williams’ leadership and thanks to their supposedly tight relationship.
Although the Phoenix Suns fell short in their 2021 NBA Finals appearance, Ayton’s solid performance led many league insiders to believe the organization would offer him a supermax rookie contract extension. The deal would have been for $172.5 million over five years, with performance escalators that could have boosted the overall amount to as high as $207 million. Similar contracts were signed by other stars in his draft class, including Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić.
However, the Suns eventually decided to pass on making such a deal with Ayton, so he entered the 2021-2022 season with the knowledge that he would be a restricted free agent at the end. After Sunday’s blowout loss, reporters asked Coach Williams why Ayton played less than a quarter-and-a-half’s worth of minutes in a must-win game, and he gave the following terse response: “It’s internal.”
Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski believes there are a number of possible suitors for Ayton’s services. “Going into the season, Deandre Ayton did not feel valued by this Phoenix organization,” he said. But the Suns still have the option to match any deal that another team offers the big man. Watch the video below to see where Woj thinks Ayton might land.
Lil Wayne Reveals Blow Up Between Suns Coach Monty Williams & Deandre Ayton was originally published on cassiuslife.com