JJ Redick and Patrick Beverley don’t see eye-to-eye on Deandre Ayton.
The retired player and Timberwolves veteran were on ESPN’s First Take Monday with Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim debating Ayton following Phoenix’s embarrassing Game 7 loss to Dallas, 123-90, that ended with the Suns big scoring just five points, a playoff career-low, on 2-of-5 shooting.
“Ayton’s fantastic,” Redick said.
Beverley quickly responded, “Whoa whoa whoa. He’s OK.”
Redick began his commentary about Ayton by asking what should the Suns do with the four-year center they drafted No. 1 overall in 2018 out of Arizona.
Phoenix didn’t sign him to a rookie max extension heading into this season.
“There’s a reason they didn’t max him Stephen A., there’s a reason they didn’t max him,” Redick said, “Has nothing to do with playoff performance. He was good in the playoffs last year. The reason they didn’t max him was because there’s questions about his attitude and character. Boom. There you go.”
Smith’s argument was that Ayton’s five-point performance has implications that go beyond the game.
“Moments like yesterday matter because people who cut checks look for an excuse not to give it to you,” Smith said. “Even if they’re wrong, they look for an excuse not to give it to you and it’s important you don’t provide it to them and when a Game 7 arrives, that’s an important moment. It dictates a lot, and if you are Deandre Ayton, they’re going to remember that.”
Ayton only played three minutes, 34 seconds in the second half as he never returned after coming out of the game with 8:26 left in the third quarter.
When asked why he only played 17 minutes in Game 7, Suns coach Monty Williams said “it’s internal.”
Read more: Where will Ayton stand with Suns after their Game 7 loss to Mavericks?
Ayton is now a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns can match any offer.
“He’s the one guy on your roster that you could facilitate a sign-and-trade with and potentially bring back a third player, a wing player, that can get you buckets, that can guard,” Redick said. “They just don’t have that third option right now.”
Rewinding back to Redick’s comment Beverley disputed, Redick said Ayton is “fantastic” at taking advantage of mismatches and talked about how effective he and Chris Paul are in pick-and-roll.
Beverley came back and said any “rolling big” is going to play well with Paul with DeAndre Jordan being an example of that when those were with the Clippers.
“DeAndre Jordan’s fantastic?” Beverley questioned.
Redick said Ayton has had to “sacrifice usage” with the Suns since Paul joined via trade before the 2020-21 season.
“He views himself as a max player and then you go halves without touching the basketball, and a lot of that has to do with the Dallas defense,” Redick said. “Cause again, they’re not operating in drop coverage. He’s not getting those little 15-foot floaters. He’s not getting the pocket passes with rolls all the way to the rim. And so there’s a level of frustration. I look at Game 6. He didn’t get the ball until the second half.”
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In reaction, Beverley said, “Well go get it off the rim 7-footer.”
Beverley didn’t stop there.
“Cause there’s a lot of bricks (Devin) Booker and CP putting up there,” Beverley continued as Booker shot a combined 9-of-31 in Game 6 and Game 7.
Beverley continued by saying he’s not interested in hearing about the lack of touches off the pass for Ayton.
“I’m all about greatness,” Beverley said. “What would Wilt Chamberlain do? What would Shaquille O’Neal do? Get it off the rim. Y’all don’t have him in the pick-and-roll, I’m going to get it off the rim. I’m going to go get it. I’m going to go get it.”
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