Phoenix will be without Deandre Ayton for the foreseeable future after his 25-game suspension was announced on Thursday night, a move that apparently hit the Suns’ star center hard.
“I will say he was contrite,” Suns coach Monty Williams said on Friday, via the Arizona Republic. “He had a level of remorse that he feels like he let people down and that’s a natural reaction for anybody in that situation.”
Ayton tested positive for a banned diuretic. The National Basketball Players’ Association is already preparing an arbitration appeal on the suspension, which started Friday night for the Suns’ game against the Denver Nuggets.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that a follow-up test revealed no trace of any other banned substances.
“This was an unintentional mistake and unfortunately I put something in my body that I was completely unaware of,” Ayton said in a statement Thursday, in part. “I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that I am deeply sorry. I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down.”
Life without Deandre Ayton
The 21-year-old had an impressive start to the season this fall, dropping 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Suns’ 124-95 win against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. The former No. 1 overall draft pick put up 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game last season while shooting nearly 59 percent from the field, too.
While the Suns will start Aron Baynes — a player Williams said he has full confidence in — in Ayton’s place during his suspension, Devin Booker knows his absence will make things that much more difficult in Phoenix.
“It’s unfortunate losing a player like him, but we have to deal with it,” Booker said, via the Arizona Republic. “It’s going to be bumps through the course and we know that as a team, but I think this is going to unify us even more.”
As for Ayton’s mental state during the suspension, Booker said he and the rest of the locker room will be right by his side.
“We just have to move forward and any help that he needs mentally from his team, we’re going to be there for him,” Booker said, via the Arizona Republic.
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