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Suns’ Williams noncommittal on Ayton’s future after shocking Game 7 loss

Monty Williams, head coach of the Phoenix Suns, talks about the team's season-ending loss against the Dallas Mavericks.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 2:56 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A day after one of the most stunning losses in the state’s sports history, Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams tried to make sense of the team’s 123-90 Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

“It is numbing,” Williams said. “It is a huge sting to end this way.”

A year after making a run to the NBA Finals, Williams led the Suns to a NBA-best 64-18 record while earning the league’s Coach of the Year award. Viewed as the favorites to win the title, Phoenix advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals after a first-round win over New Orleans. However, the team squandered a 2-0 series lead against Dallas and dropped the decisive Game 7 in blowout fashion.

“It’s unbelievably hard just because our expectations are to be the last team standing,” Williams said. “In a short period of time, we’ve come a long way. The process of the expectations have changed so quickly. That adds a lot more to the stakes. When it ends, the way that it ended, doesn’t bother me as much. Whether you lose by one or 33, the fact is it’s over. It comes to an abrupt end based on where you thought you could have been. That’s tough.”

Just how the most promising season in franchise history came apart is something that Williams and his staff will focus on during the offseason.

“I could make some excuses and some stuff, but I’m not going to do it,” he said. “We just weren’t as consistent as we’d shown in the regular season. “It’s going to take time to figure out what those concrete adjustments look like. We’ll sit down as a staff this year and look at out our style of play and do we need to change anything to fit the playoffs a bit better?”

Among the major storylines to come out of the loss was the future of center Deandre Ayton. A pending restricted free agent, Ayton played just 17 minutes in Game 7, and footage of a sideline interaction between Williams and Ayton made the rounds on social media during the game. Asked about it after the game, Williams said that the situation was “internal.” As for the future of the former No. 1 overall draft pick with the franchise, Williams said, “Deandre’s situation is something that we will deal with this summer.”

Williams, known for his Well Done > Well Said mantra, aims to use the setback as a learning opportunity.

“We accepted the praise when everyone was talking about us and we were winning games and guys were accomplishing things, and now we have to accept this,” said Williams. “This is going to help us grow in a way that last year didn’t allow us to grow.”