Very few people expected this season to go well for the Phoenix Suns, but it appears emotions are still boiling over behind closed doors. As well as some open doors.
The Suns’ top two players, rookie center Deandre Ayton and star guard Devin Booker, were engaged in a verbal confrontation as members of the media walked into the locker room following Phoenix’s 108-86 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, according to azcentral.
Phoenix’s top two players, Booker and Ayton, exchanged words after the 10-minute cooling off period as members of the media entered the visiting locker room for the tail end of that conversation.
These two have had words before on the court, with Booker correcting Ayton on what to do on certain plays. Both have agreed to hold players accountable, but this felt different.
“I’m an emotional guy, too,” Ayton said. “I start to feel stuff. When I don’t sense it and the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it don’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too.”
On the court, Ayton had a rough night with just 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting while coming off the bench, while Booker remains out indefinitely with a hamstring injury.
That’s obviously not great for a rebuilding franchise, as Ayton, this year’s first overall pick, and Booker, who signed a five-year $158-million max contract extension this offseason, are easily the team’s two biggest building blocks for the future right now. Any friction between them is cause for concern.
However, Ayton appeared to doubt the longevity of those around him in another quote to The Athletic, saying the Suns were his team. That might be of interest for Booker, who told Yahoo Sports last month that he wants a super team to be built around him in Phoenix.
“This is my team,” Ayton said. “I feel everything. … When we lose and stuff like this, I’m hurting. I take it (with) pride. I’m the guy that’s gonna be here for (several) years.
That whole deal between Ayton and Booker wasn’t the only bad look for the Suns on Thursday, as head coach Igor Koskoskov was seen getting heated with another rookie, 10th overall pick Mikal Bridges.
— NOW SPORTS (@NOOW_Sports) December 7, 2018
None of this is positive news for the 4-21 Suns, but then again, not much positive news comes out when you’re 4-21. The Suns have failed to crack double digits in the first quarter in their last two games and have lost seven straight, nearly all in embarrassing fashion.
Stuff like this will probably occur less frequently if the Suns manage to get back in the win column, but that may be difficult if the team’s most important assets aren’t on the same page. Odds are Ayton and Booker will be fine together long-term, but it’s still something that needs addressing.
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