On the heels of a breakout third year, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton was eligible for a rookie contract extension this offseason. Ayton and the organization never came to an agreement, though, and the big man will be a restricted free agent next summer.
Despite that, he isn’t worried about a new deal. In an interview with The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, Ayton spoke on a range of topics, including his response to that impasse. His focus is on working hard, winning games, and dutifully filling his role as a key player on the 20-4, title-contending Suns.
“If you want to get something and earn something in this league, you have to be a winner,” Ayton said. “Me putting my head down and working is just closing out all of that noise. I’m not really worried about all of that.
“You had the time to do the negotiations,” he continued. “You had a deadline and it didn’t work out. Boom, Bada, Bing. You still got to work. You still got to play in between the lines. Still got to make sure this dude don’t dunk on me, score on me or do something to win the game. Still got to do that. And that’s just my competitive spirit.”
Ayton said his desire is ” to be the best young two-way player in the league” and consistently “controlling the game” outside of scoring, whether that’s communicating, anchoring the paint defensively, rolling hard to the rim, or helping create baskets for teammates.
If or when he accomplishes those tasks, he’s searching for more tangible results as well.
“I want All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year,” he said. “I want to be on that talk of First-Team defense.”