Pacific Notes: Ayton, Williams, Suns, Lakers, Roberts

After Suns head coach Monty Williams downplayed what from the outside appeared to be a somewhat contentious relationship with Deandre Ayton – the two hadn’t spoken for months during the offseason after Ayton was benched in a Game 7 blowout to Dallas and then entered restricted free agency – the center says he’s communicating with his coach again.

I mean, we talk, man,” Ayton said, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscription required, hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). “At the end of the day, it’s like we’re trying to contribute to a win. Everything is back to normal. Nothing has changed to be honest.

Yeah, I may have come to media day just bland, but I wasn’t trying to give nobody no damn story or nothing, but it flipped on me. So, I can’t really say nothing. Just let everybody run away with it. All I know is we’ve been in here working. We’ve been battling each other, beating up each other in training camp. Coach has been loving it.”

Of course, it would be strange if Ayton and Williams hadn’t resumed speaking considering they have to interact with each other regularly, but calling these answers — and his demeanor — “bland” (video link) is a little disingenuous, since his replies were curt and he certainly looked like he’d rather have been anywhere else at the time.

Still, he’s under contract for four more years and can’t be traded until January 15, and Williams signed a long-term extension over the summer, so the two will have to work together for at least a few more months, if not longer, so it’s only natural to try and make the best of the situation. Evidently that’s what Ayton is trying to do.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic questions whether it was the right decision for the Suns to essentially run things back two years in a row, especially after a disappointing second-round playoff exit, and expresses skepticism about the team’s depth. He also thinks Phoenix might find it difficult to land a “win-now” replacement for Jae Crowder, which could further compromise the depth chart. Ultimately, Hollinger believes the Suns will take a significant step back from last season’s league-leading 64 wins, predicting that they’ll finish with a 50-32 record, tied for the fourth seed in the West.
  • In another article for The Athletic, Hollinger previews the Lakers‘ 2022/23 season. He thinks that Kendrick Nunn‘s return to action will be a boon for L.A., and believes they made some decent moves around the edges, but a lot of things will have to go right for them to return to contention. Hollinger predicts the Lakers will go 40-42 this season and finish as the ninth seed in the West.
  • Former Warriors assistant coach Joe Roberts has passed away at age 86, the team announced (via Twitter). A former NBA and ABA player, Roberts coached the Warriors from 1974-79, including the team’s first championship-winning club in 1975. Roberts served as head coach for the final 44 minutes of the series-clinching Game 4 after Alvin Attles was ejected, the Warriors noted in their press release. We send our condolences to Roberts’ friends and family.
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